HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam Prepares Students for National Exam

students paying attention in class

At-A-Glance Facts

Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach, Virginia, offers an Associate of Applied Sciences: Respiratory Therapy degree, which prepares students to become a certified or registered respiratory therapist through successful completion the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC®) Examination from the National Board of Respiratory Care. The Respiratory Care Program, which takes six semesters to complete, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.

The college’s faculty have found that the HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam prepares students to take the national exam by creating a realistic simulation of computer-based testing using high-quality test questions. The HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam reflects the Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination implemented in 2015.

The HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam “is a method for benchmarking students,” says Jennifer Ferguson, MS, RRT, Director of the Respiratory Therapy Program at Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach, Virginia. This process helps determine if students are prepared to take the national examination. Unlike other testing options, Ferguson says the HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam “provides details for the students in terms of their strengths and weakness, and gives me something as a program director that is helpful when I am looking at the class as a whole.”

Preparing Students for Success

Recently, Tidewater Community College’s Respiratory Therapy Program began offering the HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam for all students.

Students scheduled to graduate in May take the HESI Exit Exam in January to identify their readiness to successfully pass the Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination, offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care. The Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination determines eligibility of candidates to sit for the Clinical Simulation Examination.

Those who achieve an established “cut score” receive the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT®) credential; those who achieve a higher cut score are eligible to take the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE®). Those who pass the clinical exam receive the RRT credential. The CRT and RRT credentials are used as the basis for licensure in the 49 states that regulate Respiratory Care practice, according to the National Board for Respiratory Care. Questions on the HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam reflect the test plan for the Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination, which is why the results can help identify whether students are prepared.

“Statistically, if students don’t pass a mock national exam before they graduate, they are going to have difficulty in passing the national exam,” Ferguson says. Students who don’t achieve the ‘acceptable’ or ‘recommended’ scoring benchmarks established by HESI, complete a remediation plan and then take another exam to determine whether they are ready to graduate and prepared for the national exam.

Remediating to Achieve Preparedness

Students receive feedback on their individual results from the HESI Exit Exam, and faculty receive a report displaying both individual students and the class as a whole.

“For students, we look at whether they are in the green, yellow, or red levels,” Ferguson says. “Green students are ready to take the information and use it to study as appropriate because they can identify topics that are strengths and weaknesses so they can work on a study plan.”

For students with lower scores, Ferguson sets up individual meetings. “I come up with individual plans as to how they are going to address those issues.” The HESI Exit Exam also provides suggested remediation based upon an individual’s performance. Areas in which students scored below the acceptable range, will have Elsevier content available and linked to the suggested remediation.

The HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam was a natural fit for Tidewater College’s program because students and faculty already use Elsevier electronic textbooks. Ferguson says students like the feedback they receive from the HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam. “It gives them something concrete,” she notes. “Without it, there are too many assumptions.”

Appreciating Benefits

Like directors of other Respiratory Therapy Programs, Ferguson needs to identify the overall strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum.

“Our accrediting body wants us to do that,” she says. Reports from the HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam make it easy to evaluate the curriculum and create needed reports for the accrediting body.

Another benefit is the quality of the questions, which prepares students well for the national examination. “We have strong pass rates on our exams,” Ferguson notes, citing the 100 percent pass rate for the national examinations.

The HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam not only supports Tidewater Community College’s history of success, but also “changed our methods of how we can ensure this type of end result because our students deserve that.” Ferguson adds that the resources provided by Elsevier prepared her well to implement the HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam.

Valuing Computer-Based Testing

“They take their national exams on a computer, so if you’re not giving them these (practice) exams on a computer, you’re doing them a disservice because there’s a learning curve between taking a paper and pencil test and taking a test on a computer,” Ferguson says.

Even if schools can’t use computer testing throughout the program, she recommends at least providing computer testing near the end so that students are better prepared. Ferguson also recommends that faculty members consider the HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam as an option for providing computer-based testing.

Although money is always a concern for college programs, she says the exam has “a good, competitive price.” The HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam “works well for us,” Ferguson says. She tries to meet with students after they take their national examination and reports students find “no difference” between the HESI Respiratory Care Exit Exam and the national exam. “There were no surprises for them.” “I think it’s a great product,” Ferguson sums up.