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.