Jefferson Nursing Grads to Support COVID-19 Efforts

The Class of 2020 to enter the workforce under untraditional circumstances.

Graduates of nursing programs traditionally must pass the RN licensing exam, NCLEX-RN, before they can practice in the field. With COVID-19, though, no aspect of life today can be considered business-as-usual, including the temporary closure of many NCLEX-RN testing sites as a safety precaution.

Rather than forcing the new class to stand idly by during a pandemic and await testing sites to reopen on a widespread basis, the Pennsylvania Department of State suspended some nursing licensing and regulatory requirements.

The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing now allows new graduates to enter the practice environment earlier and delay taking the NCLEX-RN exam—with certain restrictions. (Many other states have implemented the same strategy.)

“Our grads are prepared at the highest level,” says Dr. Marie Ann Marino, dean of the Jefferson College of Nursing. “They will make a huge impact on patient care, especially during this current crisis.”

Group of nurses in masks
New Jefferson graduates will practice under the supervision of experienced nurses.

The new guidelines work like this: Once Jefferson students finish their degree requirements on May 8 and the state verifies their education, they will be issued an authorization to test and a graduate permit. This step will allow them to practice under the supervision of an experienced nurse and sit for the NCLEX-RN once testing centers open back up widely.

“The suspension of regulations enables us to pipeline highly qualified new graduate nurses into our system and others,” says Dr. Marino, noting Jefferson’s 92 percent first-time pass rate on the licensing exam.

Nearly 320 Jefferson nursing students will graduate in May and almost 100 more in August. Dr. Marino is working closely with Dr. Susan Campbell, Jefferson’s chief nurse executive, to develop a pathway for the University’s nursing graduates to easily move into the Jefferson Health network.

The suspension of regulations enables us to pipeline highly qualified new graduate nurses into our system and others. —Dr. Marie Ann Marino

“The skills and competencies our graduates have will bolster and support more experienced nurses providing care to high-acuity patients,” says Dr. Marino, acknowledging the “enormous responsibility” that lies ahead for grads.

“The time has come for you to bring the assets and talents of the college to bear on the current pandemic and contribute to the health care response to COVID-19, both in the Philadelphia region and beyond,” she says to the Class of 2020. “You’re well-prepared and have been educated to never, ever give up. You possess the mindset to be tough, the skills to achieve and the perseverance to overcome.”

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