Arkansas State University brought HESI® Compass™ onboard, making their capstone easier for students and faculty

Arkansas State University has a long-standing history with HESI, using the testing program all the way back in the mid-90s before it was an Elsevier solution. They stuck with HESI over the years, utilizing its trusted content and strong data. With the addition of HESI Compass, their students have a familiar, seamless review course to help them pass the NCLEX on their first try.

Prior Experience with HESI

In her role as HESI Compass Faculty Coordinator, Judith Pfriemer, MSN, RN, knows tracking student outcomes consistently through things like HESI data is not only important for their program success, but figuring out how faculty can better help their students achieve success on NCLEX.

“Students get wrapped up in their exam scores, but what did they really learn. Having that test that is validated and reliable is important,” Pfriemer says.

Faculty at Arkansas State University were familiar with a multitude of HESI exams before integrating HESI Compass. Pfriemer’s Jonesboro campus uses HESI Custom, Exit Exams and Specialty Exams for a number of courses. They also assign up to 15 mandatory remediation packets based on student exam performance.

Not only are these exams used throughout their program locally, but across other Arkansas State University satellite campuses as well. Because all exams are administered in one system, tracking data for all programs and looking for improvements across the curriculum is easier. HESI data is also used for program assessment and accreditation reports to show their benchmarks.

Although HESI exams have been vital to their program, finding a solution for their graduating seniors to complete a comprehensive review course that could be done within their last semester was an important next step to ensuring positive student outcomes.

Working with HESI Compass

Prior to using HESI Compass, they used a competitor product that Pfriemer oversaw for all campuses. After the first semester, they switched due to student reports of lack of communication and delays in score reports, and an unrealistic faculty workload to connect with students on their progress.

They quickly transitioned to HESI Compass after deciding they needed a change. Pfriemer says there was a noticeable difference in the faculty workload in the HESI Compass system. They started using HESI Compass with their 2020 graduating classes.

“Student feedback was much faster and easier in HESI Compass because I could see that their [coach] had already reached out to them, I didn’t necessarily have to,” Pfriemer says.

Pfriemer says everything about HESI Compass is easier to navigate, like accessing the grade book, and appreciates having full access to reports available to all campuses.

HESI Compass is used as a capstone in their program. Previously, Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing (EAQ) for the NCLEX RN was traditionally used in the capstone. Now, EAQs hold a different place in their program, introduced earlier on and used throughout the program and in their clinical course.

HESI Compass is completed in their capstone, and students could focus on the modules available through the product. To make sure students took HESI Compass seriously in the capstone, faculty made sure it was part of their grade. The average score for HESI Compass on the Jonesboro campus was 92.4 in their fall 2020 course.

“By incorporating this into the semester we thought everybody would get through a review course and have increased success on the NCLEX” Pfriemer says.

With HESI Compass, students have access to tenured nurse educators as coaches, which Pfriemer says students were very receptive to. According to Pfriemer, students felt encouraged by the motivation coaches provided and were engaged with this course on a weekly basis.

Advice to Faculty

Preparing students for a quick entry into the workforce is important to faculty like Pfriemer, and making sure students have the tools to pass the NCLEX the first time they take the exam helps guarantee they can become effective nurses sooner.

“When you fail, mentally and physically it costs a lot. We just want them to test once, pass, and have that good feeling, and maybe go on to get their bachelors,” Pfriemer says.

Although they were already using the HESI Exit Exams, Pfriemer recommends HESI Compass for programs who don’t currently have it so they can meet their student learning outcomes with reliable exams to prepare their students for the NCLEX.