Students drawn to the success of Park’s nursing program


Natalya Nalivaiko, Editor

Nursing programs are generally regarded to be academically challenging and demanding. It requires a lot of studying and hard work to pass classes and important exams. Most importantly, student nurses want to leave their programs able to obtain the licenses and certifications they need to practice nursing. Park University’s nursing department is producing nurses who are ready to go out and work in the field.

In the last three semesters, Park’s nursing program has had a 100 percent passing rate for the NCLEX exam, which is the exam that tests overall skills and knowledge learned in nursing school. It is developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nusing. Students must pass it in ordered to be licensed as a registered nurse or RN.

Solena Rodriquez, a junior in her first year of the nursing program, says that the NCLEX passing rate is what attracted her to the program.

“That definitely made me gravitate towards wanting to come here because that means they’re doing something right because people are getting licensed,” said Rodriquez.

A huge part of what creates that success for nursing students and the program are the various dynamics of learning that they go through. Jessica Fitzgerald, DNP, assistant chair of the nursing department and assistant professor, explains how that learning works.

“We have kind of a tri-fold of classroom, skills lab-slash-simulation and then also clinicals that goes into our preparation for the nurses,” said Fitzgerald. “We go into our assessment labs or our fundamental lab and practice the different skills that help support the different theoretical knowledge, and then we also have simulation, so we take those skills and we combine them together and simulate a patient experience.”

When students go into clinicals, they go into real hospitals and follow nurses and are able to practice their learned skills with patients in order to prepare them for work after receiving their BSN or bachelor of science in nursing.

Jaime Tonasket, a junior nursing major, says she appreciates all of the resources the nursing program has to offer for the students.

“Not only do we sit in class for three hours a day, but we can use our skills that we learn about and actually do them in lab, clinicals and simulation,” said Tonasket.

In the simulation labs, there are mannequins that lay in hospital beds and are able to make small movements like blinking their eyes, and can be treated by the nursing students. The mannequins are hooked up to various machines, and they act as patients for students to practice skills on, such as checking their heart rate, blood pressure and drawing blood. There are even pregnant mannequins and babies for students to practice taking care of later on in the program.

“We have to see what they need, we have to look at their chart, and go into their orders and have to perform the tasks, and we are graded off of that,” explains Tonasket.

Students don’t only read the textbook and spit information back out on tests; they have to understand the information and learn hands-on how to do various skills just as they would in the real world. These simulation labs allow students to make mistakes without having the actual consequences of a mistake on a patient. They are able to practice until it’s perfect and then perform those skills on real patients in clinicals at a hospital.

The resources in the nursing program are very helpful to students and keep them on the right track to become adequate nurses in the real world. In addition to those resources, one of the benefits to students at Park are the smaller class sizes that allow for a lower student to professor ratio.

Rodriquez said, “I really like the fact that the classes are small, so we get to not only kind of interact with everybody in your class but the kind of help you can get from your teachers is also substantially greater than some of the other universities where the class sizes are ginormous.”

Fitzgerald adds, “What makes Park a little more unique and addresses things for students is that while we do have great facilities, we also have small numbers, and I think those two combined help us have a successful pass rate.”

For Tonasket and Rodriquez, joining the nursing program at Park has had its challenges with the amount of content and concepts that are required for them to learn. Yet they both enjoy the program because they know they are being well-taught and prepared to take the NCLEX. They also have confidence their knowledge and skills will translate into their future jobs.

“It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it,” said Tonasket. “All you have to do is keep your head up and push through all of the challenges.”

Rodriquez says it’s important to make the right choice for yourself when choosing a program as well as know why you are doing it. In nursing, she thinks it’s essential to always know why you want to go through the program and use that as motivation to keep going.

“Although it’s not for everyone, it’s a rewarding career I don’t think anyone will regret getting into. I really enjoy the program and the people I work with and the students,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s a good program.”