Nursing students attain 100% passing rate on board exams

photo of a nurse standing in an exam roomGoing into nursing wasn’t the plan for Chantri Krejci. But thanks to opportunities at Laramie County Community College, she and many others have found their paths and entered the workforce with outstanding credentials in tow. 

Krejci was among LCCC nursing students who saw a 100% pass rate on the National Council Leensure Examination (NCLEX), a nationwide examination for the licensing of nurses. Examinees must achieve an 80% or higher on the challenging assessment for licensing, and the second quarter pass rate for both Practical Nursing certificate students and Registered Nurse graduates saw all students meet or exceed that mark.

Dr. Karen Bowen, LCCC’s nursing program director, said it’s an achievement that graduates and certificate recipients can be proud of.

“It is very rare that programs produce a 100% passing rate on the exam, especially for first-time test takers,” Bowen said. “We’ve always maintained higher pass rates at LCCC, but never at this level.”

Completing her degree and becoming licensed is the next step in a journey that’s taken some twists and turns for Krejci. A native of Aspen, Colorado, she studied animal sciences at the University of Wyoming in 2011 before she met her husband. She then became a full-time mom for eight years. Struggles with pregnancies resulted in hospitalizations and other difficult times that called for health care. Krejci said she didn’t remember much about the doctors at that time, but the nurses made a lasting impact on her perspective.

“These are the people that made the biggest difference, so I decided to pursue that,” she said.

Pursuing the Associate Degree in Nursing came with its challenges, Krejci said. When she entered the program in 2021, many in her cohort were already Certified Nursing Assistants or Emergency Medical Technicians, giving them a background in health care that Krejci didn’t yet have. But with time came an understanding of how to approach the program and meet her goals.

“Once I got a foothold established, I found a support system with my classmates and the faculty,” she said. “I felt like I had to work a little harder at first, but I never really had doubts after the first semester that this was where I needed to be.”

Haley Buszkiewic, another in the cohort that achieved the 100% passing rate, was also a student parent with a lot to juggle. In addition to commuting from Laramie for classes, Buszkiewic worked three different jobs during her time as a student. Even with the heavy load of responsibility, Buszkiewic, who was already a CNA, said she knew pursuing more advanced degrees was the right path.

“I’m a very strong-willed individual,” she said. “Ever since my oldest was born, I have just wanted to better myself and not be living from paycheck to paycheck.”

That journey of advancement continues today as Buszkiewic pursues a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Wyoming. And again, she’s doing it while she’s a mom who works up to three different jobs. 

While there may have been a lot to overcome for Buszkiewic, she said LCCC’s faculty were top-notch, making sure students knew the expectations for nurses and providing the support they needed.

“The instructors care and they prepare you to be strong mentally and possess strong judgment,” she said. “I think one of the biggest things was the accountability they held students to, making sure they gave us standards and that we followed them.”

For Krejci, who went into nursing because she wanted to help people, the faculty at LCCC provided an example of how to approach the profession.

“My first instructor was one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever been around,” Krejci said. “She loves to take care of people, and she was one of those people who talked about the profession with so much passion.”

The cohort achieving a 100% passing rate on the board examines is even more exceptional because of the fact it was the first group of students tested using the new NEXGen testing platform generated by the National Council for State Boards of Nursing to identify clinical judgment in nursing graduates. Bowen said preparation for the exam is more challenging than in the past.

“The students not only have to think about the information they are being presented with, but now they are being asked to take that one step further and make a decision regarding what to do with that information,” she said. “It’s a very different process from before.”

To have a 100% passing rate on the first attempt on the next generation examine was vindicating, Bowen said.

“We are thrilled that the work has paid off and that the students have been successful in their progression through the program and testing,” she said.

Buszkiewic still has some road to travel before she arrives at her goal of becoming a family nurse practitioner. But having achieved milestones at LCCC, she said she’s prepared for whatever life throws at her next. Because, she said, challenges have been overcome in the past, and she can do it again.

“I took it one day, one step at a time,” she said. “There were times that I struggled — I won’t say it was easy by any means — but I just had to lean on my support system and take it a step every day. I just tried to stay in that moment. This is where I want to be, and I am ready to do it.”