HESI builds students’ critical thinking skills at Florida International University’s College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Students actively listening in class

At-A-Glance Facts

The College of Nursing & Health Sciences at Florida International University in Miami offers baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degree programs in nursing. FIU has over 4,000 nursing graduates.

FIU uses HESI products as part of the admission process and throughout its baccalaureate nursing program. Faculty report HESI helps build students’ critical thinking skills and HESI’s remediation reports help students to identify and improve on their areas of weakness to attain their highest potential.


HESI has been very helpful for our students. It’s a well-rounded evaluation and remediation system that prepares students for their NCLEX examinations,” says Ali Marie Galindo, MSN, ARNP-FP, and Clinical Assistant Professor at Florida International University’s (FIU’s) College of Nursing & Health Sciences.

FIU’s HESI package includes the Admission Assessment Exam, Specialty Exams, and the comprehensive Exit Exam. The college integrates the testing and remediation throughout the nursing program. “We give Specialty Exams at the end of each course and scores may account for a portion of the students’ final grade says Galindo. FIU continues to expand its HESI package, recently adding the Health Assessment Exam.

HESI integration has achieved results-graduates of the nursing program continue to perform at an impressive rate on the NCLEX. “I think HESI is a huge part of that success,” Galindo says.

HESI Answers Need for Critical Thinking Skills

Galindo says HESI excels in developing students’ critical thinking skills and preparing them for practice. “Critical thinking is crucial when it comes to nursing care today because the scope of nursing practice is expanding,” she says. “We want to teach and foster critical thinking so nursing students provide the highest quality of care.”

Critical thinking skills are also imperative when prioritizing care-a key ability during high stress situations. Nurses are presently working at maximum capacity and the demands will continue to increase as older nurses retire and the population ages.

HESI builds critical thinking skills with tests that encourage students to apply what they have learned in a particular situation, much as they will have to do in practice. “The exams consist of question levels that address application, analysis, and synthesis of knowledge”, says Galindo. “The more exposure students have to these types of questions, the more they develop their critical thinking abilities.” The tests help students better apply the nursing process, building their expertise as they progress through the nursing program. The instant feedback HESI provides resonates with students. “This generation of students likes immediate feedback and using electronic resources to enhance learning,” Galindo says.

HESI Reports Are Valuable Resource for Enhancing Skills and Meeting Remediation Needs

Individual HESI examination reports help identify students’ strengths and weaknesses. “You have to master certain concepts to develop critical thinking skills and be able to apply the information you’ve learned to clinical situations,” says Galindo. “If students are deficient in a certain area, HESI identifies where they are deficient and provides resources so they can remediate and improve.”

Galindo says HESI provides multiple resources for students, so they can access information in their preferred learning style. “Tailored remediation provides an individual teaching plan for each student so that each student reaches his or her potential,” she says. “There is less possibility for students to fall through the cracks. Faculty can review the activity log to ensure students are accessing their individualized resources.” The depth of resources HESI provides also encourages success. “They have so many resources and there is an abundance of information for students to use,” says Galindo.

Galindo sees remediation results in the classroom and the clinical setting: “If students use the resources that are available through HESI, you see their test scores and clinical performance improve.”

In addition to assessing the ability to apply knowledge, faculty can use HESI reports to help students develop their testing skills. “For example, students who on written examination, erase correct answers are unable to do so on a computerized exam, thus students must make a choice before they can move on to the next question. Students also learn to read the question carefully, and only address the information provided,” Galindo says.

HESI Assesses Practice Safety Standards

She adds, “HESI provides more than just an enhanced ability to pass licensure examinations; it assesses the students’ knowledge of minimal safety standards and their application to nursing care. HESI asks questions that guide students to understand their areas of weakness so that remediation can then help them improve.”

Galindo acknowledges that it can be a challenge for some faculty members to embrace new technology, but adds, “Our HESI contacts have been very supportive in providing faculty training and are responsive if faculty have concerns or questions.”