N.S. nurses to be given unlimited attempts to pass final exam
As of next week, new nurses will be given an unlimited number of attempts to pass their final exam.
“I woke up this morning and I was still smiling,” said grad nurse Denise Ross. “I feel like it’s going to make a huge difference.”
The policy used to be limited to three attempts with no way of becoming a nurse other than completing the entire degree again.
Registered nurse Amber Shute says she's happy that nursing students will now receive unlimited attempts to write their post-grad exam.
“It really sets you back, so I just wanted to make sure that nobody else had to go through what I went through,” said Shute.
The College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia changed its position Tuesday, saying it no longer requires the limit to ensure public safety because the new exam, known as the NCLEX-RN, is a computer adaptive test.
“The design features and security features of the new exam means that no one writes the same exam twice,” said Heather Totton of the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia. “That ensures that the exam is truly measuring the graduate's ability to practice nursing safely, as opposed to, for example, measuring their test wise-ness from taking the exam multiple times.”
The nurses’ union has been lobbying the college to make the change. Now they both agree no matter how many tries it takes, if a nurse passes the test, he or she is competent.
“These men and women have graduated from a four-year science program in nursing in a university in our province,” said Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union.’
The College points out that passing the exam is not the only requirement for obtaining a licence to practice nursing in Nova Scotia. Students also have to have graduated from nursing school within the last five years, have a criminal record check, and employer references.
Nova Scotia is now the fourth province to allow an unlimited number of attempts to write the exam. New Brunswick changed its policy last year and Newfoundland and Alberta recently decided to do away with the three-write limit.
But some potential patients are skeptical.
“It would definitely make me lose confidence in the profession,” said one Halifax resident.
The college insists the decision has nothing to do with the province's nursing shortage.
Meanwhile, new nurses say they hope universities will start tailoring their teaching to the exam.
“You'll see that people won't even require three writes, but we need to be able to get to that point,” Ross said.
The change will take effect on June 27 and will apply to all nurses still trying to pass the exam.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell