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COVID-19 Is Causing Nursing Schools to see an increase in enrollment.

Posted on June 15th, 2020 in NCLEX

The first case of U.S COVID-19 case was diagnosed on January 20th, 2020. It would be the first of over 2.15 million cases in the US (as of the date of this writing.) And with it, an unprecedented shortage of Registered Nurses. But what about the nursing students? Med school students not yet licensed to practice?

As it turns out, much like the increase of military enlistments after 9/11, nursing schools across the country have seen an increase in enrollment of their Nursing programs.

Nurses are in high demand, but low supply.

There are an estimated 3.8 million registered nurses in the United States. But only about 90,000 emergency trained nurses. And in emergency rooms across the country, RNs are seeing an increased patient load due to COVID-19.

“The biggest obstacle facing the health care system overall is not finding rooms. It’s not finding beds,” said Mark Holmes, director of the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center. “It’s a lack of staff.”

Couple that with traditional school campuses closing due to COVID-19, and you’ve got a nurse shortage, coupled with a temporarily closed training replenishment system.

More students are flocking to Online Nursing Schools. In fact, between Feb 2020, and May 2020, Google saw a 300% increase in searches for schools with online RN programs.

The NCLEX has had to make changes too.

Test centers for the NCLEX were initially closed due to COVID-19 in the U.S. and Canada and are slowly reopening. However, not all test centers have reopened. Physical distancing has allowed fewer students to take the exam at one time. 

The following changes have been made to the exam due to the decreased number of students allowed at each sitting:

  1. Exam Time: The maximum time allowed for writing the exam has been shortened from 6 hours to 4 hours. 
  2. Questions: The minimum number of questions that must be answered correctly to pass the NCLEX-RN has been decreased from 75 questions to 60 questions. The maximum number of exam questions that can be answered has been decreased from 265 questions to 130 questions. This is less than half the original number of questions on the previous version of the NCLEX-RN.
  3. Pre-test Questions: The 15 pre-test questions were removed from the exam. In the past, 15 pretest questions were included in all exams. These questions did not count in a student’s exam mark but were a way to collect statistics from students for future exams.  
  4. Sections: The research section at the end of the exam has been removed. The NCSBN has been collecting additional information from students at the end of the exam in the past for use in preparing the “next generation” of NCLEX-RN. This work was being collected to help with future exam changes.
  5. Attire: Students may wear a mask and gloves during the exam. 

Are you waiting to take your NCLEX? Keep your skills and knowledge fresh with the NCLEX Study Guide and Practice Questions.

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