RICHMOND, Ky. — A recent study from the Kentucky Hospital Association shows nearly 13,000 job vacancies in Kentucky hospitals at the end of last year. 5,300 of those jobs were nursing jobs.
But nursing programs in the state continue to close that gap. Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond celebrated a 100% pass rate on a national nursing license exam (NCLEX), above the state average.
Kaylee Pratt hopes to one day graduate from EKU’s nursing program. Right now, the sophomore is in the pre-nursing program.
“So we had to get accepted into the pre-nursing classes and that’s where we’re at now and then once we pass everything we apply for the nursing program and get accepted into that,” Pratt said.
Pratt is preparing for her final examination on the basics; one of those is inserting an IV. Pratt and every student in the pre-nursing program has access to hands on training right away.
“Everything we do here will definitely be used throughout my career from the history of nursing to learning the skills,” Pratt said.
For Pratt, entering the high-demand field of nursing is a family affair. She was inspired by her grandmother.
“She was the most kindhearted person to ever walk this planet and just her heart for it and all the stories that she told me. I was just so interested from day one,” Pratt said.
After passing their pre-nursing courses, students enter more advanced classes. Including simulated hospital rooms with high fidelity mannequins that can mimic an actual patient.
“I always tell my students, the sim center is helping you create a file folder so that when you are in a hospital setting with a patient, you can go oh yeah I remember last semester in nursing school we had a chest pain scenario and I know what to do when a patient has chest pain,” said Keri New, simulation lab coordinator.
These patients can moan, talk and their pupils dilatate. New says the students treat this like a hospital setting, but it’s safe and there’s immediate feedback.
“After the scenario is over, we talk to them, and we have them reflect on their performance. We have them talk to us about what went well and what didn’t go well,” New said.
It’s this hands-on, intimate class size that paves the way toward positive results when students take their National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX.
“Faculty are very engaged and use a variety of teaching modalities,” said nursing chair, Brooke Bentley.
Recently, EKU celebrated a 100% pass rate of the NCLEX from this past spring semester, students for a career that in Kentucky has 5,300 openings.
“There are hospital beds that are open because they do not have adequate staffing, so the more we can increase enrollment in our nursing programs and help with health care workforce shortage, that’s fantastic,” Bentley said.
Pratt said it’s a lot of work, that will someday payoff.
“If that’s what you really want to do and what your heart is set on, then you can do it. You just have to push yourself,” Pratt said.
According to an EKU news release, the state average pass rate for NCLEX in 2022 was 77.6%.
EKU offers associate, bachelor and master’s degree options in its school of nursing.