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Nursing Students Excel at First-Time Licensing Exam, Defying COVID-19 Disruptions

July 23, 2020

Closing the MGH Institute physical campus and moving all classroom instruction online in March because of the coronavirus pandemic did not prevent students in the accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program from reaching the Institute’s highest first-time pass rate on the profession’s licensing exam.

Nursing students in the April graduating cohort of the Class of 2020 achieved a first-time pass rate was 98.6% on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) – up from 94% in 2019. The most recent pass rate nationally, in 2019, was 88%.

“The faculty, staff, and students gave their all to make sure the graduating cohort didn’t just succeed, but excelled,” said Dr. Elaine Tagliareni, Dean of the School of Nursing. “In these uncertain times, new nurses are needed more than ever, and we are proud that our graduates now join the nursing workforce to meet the health care needs of the nation.”

In April, in the state of Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker waived the NCLEX test requirement for expectant nursing school graduates to graduate early and begin treating patients prior to completing their licensure examinations. According to Rebecca Hill, the ABSN program director, nursing faculty transitioned on-campus classes to virtual learning to ensure students met all course requirements. 

“These exceptional students rose to every occasion, and the NCLEX scores are a strong indication of their success,” said Dr. Hill. “We are so very proud of their accomplishments.” 

Many of the ABSN students signed on to work at Boston Hope, the field hospital set up by the Mass General Brigham health system in conjunction with the city of Boston and several nonprofit health agencies. The current chair of the Institute’s Board of Trustees and chief nurse emerita at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Jeanette Ives Erickson, a 2011 Doctor of Nursing Practice graduate, was tapped to be the co-medical and operations director of the 1,000-bed medical center.