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Entry level competence of nurses by type of program

Peggy Lee Hawkins, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Controversy has existed among nurses and nurse educators since the inception of associate degree education regarding which type of nursing education should be the accepted standard preparation for entry into nursing practice. The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine whether nursing education program type had an effect on entry level competence. Competence was measured by the pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN®). NCLEX-RN® is a high-stakes, psychometrically sound and legally defensible examination that all state boards of nursing use to measure entry level competence. ^ Pass rate data from all nursing graduates in one Midwestern state for a five-year period were analyzed. The scores of graduates from associate degree, diploma and baccalaureate programs were compared to determine whether there were significant differences in pass rates. All data were reported in the aggregate only. No identifying information was associated with individual schools and every effort was extended to guarantee anonymity of schools. ^ Permission to use aggregate data was obtained from the State Board of Nursing of the state under study. The data were reported as number passed and number failed for each school. These nominal data required the use of the chi square for statistical purposes. The chi square test for independence determined that there were significant differences among the three types of programs (X 2 = 23.521, df = 2, ρ = .000061334). Associate degree programs and the diploma program had higher than expected pass rates. The baccalaureate programs had a lower than expected pass rate. The chi square test for Goodness of Fit determined that the Midwestern state under study did not differ significantly from the rest of the nation (X 2 = 1.353, df = 1, 3983, ρ = 0.245). The pass rate for all programs in the state during the five-year period of study was 88.5%. During the same period of time the national pass rate was 87.9%. Recommendations for further study included determining causal factors for the difference in initial competence and determining whether a difference in continued competence exists in graduates from the three types of programs. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Education|Health Sciences, Nursing

Recommended Citation

Hawkins, Peggy Lee, "Entry level competence of nurses by type of program" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9967373.