More controversy over new N.S. nurses exam
Published Thursday, March 31, 2016 7:11PM ADT
The numbers are in, and we now have a much better idea how many Nova Scotia nurses are passing and failing the new exam they’re required to write.
The College of Registered Nurses says the numbers make them confident in the testing, but nurses say it’s inaccurate and discouraging.
Denise Ross is finding it difficult to relax these days.
She’s about to write an exam that will determine the rest of her life.
“It’s do or die,” she says. “You either pass and you can be an RN, or you fail and you go back and re-do your degree.”
Ross graduated with a bachelor of nursing, but she’s failed the exam that would certify her a registered nurse, twice.
She only gets one more shot.
“It affects your mental health,” she adds, “your emotional health, your financial means.”
Last year a new computer adaptive test was introduced, and now we’re getting a clearer idea of how many people are passing and failing.
“We believe the exam is appropriately measuring the competence of these N.S. graduates,” explains Heather Totton of the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia.
On the first try 298 people passed, 95 failed.
Of those who tried the second time, 50 passed, and 32 failed.
Less than five tried the 3rd time.
Citing privacy, the College of Registered Nurses won’t tell us exactly how many, but they say half of them failed.
Not everyone tried again, and some waited until 2016, meaning that data is not included here.
“There’s some holes in it,” says Ross. “There’s some people missing.”
The Nova Scotia Nurses Union says the numbers don’t provide any comfort.
The president points out that in the United States there is no limit on the number of times nurses can write the exam, and New Brunswick has made the same change for two years, with the consideration it is a new exam.
“More attempts to write this exam would be beneficial because we are the guinea pigs who are coming out and writing this exam for the first time,” says registered nurse Amber Shute.
The nurses say the most important number to them is the number of people who passed on the first attempt, 75 per cent, compared to the old exam when 90-96 per cent passed on the first try.
But the college maintains what’s important is that 89 per cent of nurses passed overall, regardless of how many times it took them to pass.
“We don’t see anything that would cause us concern in this report that needs immediate change,” says Totton.
Denise Ross has 11 more study days left, but she says these numbers are so discouraging, she may delay writing the exam.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell.