NCLEX did not fail the students, the Canadian Nursing Association and the regulating provincial bodies did.

26 Aug

I’ve been a nurse for under 5 years and I still remember all too well studying for the CRNE (Canadian Registered Nursing Exam) and the stress and anxiety I felt from it.  I  also knew that CRNE for the most part attempted to  reflect on what I learned in nursing school as well as how our Canadian Health Care system operated.

Then all of a sudden arrived the NCLEX.

A number of years ago, the CNA (Canadian Nursing Association) and the rest of the provincial nursing regulating bodies in Canada were being proposed of a new exam called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) that would serve as a uniform way of testing all nurses both in Canada and the US (the  US has had this testing since 1994.)  This year was the first year that graduating Canadian Nurses wrote the exam.


And unfortunately many of them failed.

Questions and possible answers immediately started to arise as to why this was the case.  Blames to the type of school and programs immediately surfaced as many tried to find an answer.  Many schools however have proved that statistically prior to the NCLEX they were had successful rates with the CRNE.  So the real reason is not because these students were not smart enough.

The real reason is that simply these unfortunate students were used as guinea pigs in a failed experiment that did not prepare them.

It seems the one thing that was often overlooked and what some organizations such as the RNAO (Registered Nursing Association of Ontario) had chanted for years is that simply nursing in Canada is different from the nursing in the United States.   Nursing up here tends to be more psycho-social where in the United States it is more bio-medical and pathophysiological.  There is no argument as to which one is better or worse but it is also unfair to subject a test to nursing students who essentially spent four years if not more studying and learning nursing in a Canadian health care system to only be subjected to a licensing exam that does not reflect this at all.

Furthermore, a lot of nursing schools did not have enough time or prep for these graduating students to take the NCLEX exam.  Most of the prep exams for students are based on the CRNE format.  A brand new curriculum would have to be implemented to prepare these students and usually preparing such curriculum can take months if not years.

What I always found quite odd (and also a waste of money) is that though the NCLEX is an American standardize test, as Canadians if we want to practice in the United States, we have to take yet another NCLEX just to practice in the few states that we are allowed to if we chose to practice south of the border.

In my department where I currently worked, we hired 8 new graduate nurses who all took the new NCLEX.  Out of the 8, only one passed.  This is a staggering number considering in the past, most if not all of our new grad nurses d passed the CRNE.  As a new graduate nurse, I can only imagine  how detrimental this must feel, especially if this was your first nursing job to only have taken away from you because of this botched exam.

I wish I could give advice to these new students but because I have not written the “Canadian NCLEX” it would be like the blind leading the blind.  But more importantly I wish the CNA and the other regulating bodies across the country can see that this was not implemented or planned properly and perhaps was a big mistake.

And most importantly…….If ain’t broke…..don’t fix.



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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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4 responses to “NCLEX did not fail the students, the Canadian Nursing Association and the regulating provincial bodies did.

  1. Aloe

    August 26, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    There is no such thing as a Canadian NCLEX, The NCLEX whether taken in Canada or the U.S would allow nurses to cross borders without having to retake the national exam. However nurses would be required to meet each state/province requirements such as the jurisprudence exam. Canadian nurses should be happy that the NCLEX is now the national exam! I am also a nurse and me and my coworkers think it is about time the NCLEX is the national exam in Canada, it makes more sense. Of all the nurses I know that have taken the CRNE, they have also passed the NCLEX. read the other forums on Canadian nurses that have taken the CRNE and NCLEX, some have been out of school for many years and were able to pass the NCLEX within a month of studying. My coworker took the exam last week and passed with 75 questions simply taking 1 review course. Maybe it is because they are nurses and already have that knowledge, realistically the psychosocial aspect does not fly as a nurse for the most part in real world nursing.

  2. Blayne

    August 26, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    I happen to be one of the first to write the NCLEX in 1994. It was a very scary experience, very different to those students in years before that would normally help you to prepare. I however did go to a great school that had the foresight to start preparing the students earlier with mock exams and time in the computer lab simulating NCLEX format. So I agree with another poster that the schools have failed the students. But there are many NCLEX study guides and courses that are available and the students should be responsible to prepare themselves as well, and not just rely on the school for preparation. I have also written the CRNE and it is a very different exam, but preparing for both exams do give you the right to practice as an entry level RN, it’s just the beginning, and you then guide your own career, be it psychosocial or biomedical or pathophysiological direction. I don’t feel that I practice differently than my Canadian trained RN co workers, we all complement each other. I do not agree however the with money grab to have to rewrite the NCLEX to practice in the US.

  3. Bri

    October 1, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    I passed the NCLEX exam 1st attempt with the minimum 75 questions and also did most of my close friends. Did you ever think that those students that failed simply did not study correctly or enough?? If more than half of those that took the exam passed then it cannot be a problem with the school only. Also, I understand that finding a job is hard so I will be applying to the U.S. I was told that once Canadian nurses pass the NCLEX we do not have to take the NCLEX again in the U.S, so you are misinformed on that part.

    • medsoulbrother

      January 6, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      When they first introduced the NCLEX this question was brought up about Canadians needing to take the NCLEX exam again if practicing in the U.S. At that time (last year or so) students who were told that they would have to take the NCLEX again. Clearly they have changed this now.

      I am happy that you and your friends passed on the first try but when I decided to examine at the stats across the different nursing schools across Canada, a number of them reported that they failed on the first attempt (I am not making these stats up, just stating facts.) Furthermore I had went into forums where people had expressed similar anger and upset about this.


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