COLUMBIA — Nursing education programs at South Carolina’s institutions of higher education contributed to South Carolina claiming the fifth-highest state pass rate in the nation for 2022 on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), a test required for nursing graduates to be licensed to practice in the United States.
According to data released this month by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, 2,734 registered nurse exams were administered to first-time takers across the state in 2022, with a pass rate of 87.13 percent. The national pass rate was 79.91 percent. Applications were also up 8.2 percent from last year.
“Right now, our state and the entire nation are struggling with a shortage of qualified nurses,” said Dr. Rusty Monhollon, South Carolina Commission on Higher Education President and Executive Director. “South Carolina’s exceptional NCLEX pass rate indicates not only instructional excellence on the part of our institutions, but a strong dedication to the profession on behalf of our future nurses.”
“Nurses are the foundation for delivering care at the bedside and ensuring that the needs of each patient are met,” said Lara Hewitt, Vice President of Workforce & Member Engagement for the South Carolina Hospital Association. “As the state’s hospitals continue to experience a severe workforce shortage, we are encouraged by the amazing work South Carolina’s higher education community is doing to get more nurses into the field. We look forward to working with state leaders to continue to invest in nurse training and retention.”
The following institutions distinguished themselves with a 100 percent pass rate, specific programs are listed in parentheses:
- South University, Columbia (Baccalaureate in Registered Nursing)
- Midlands Technical College (Practical Nursing)
- Technical College of the Low Country (Practical Nursing)
- Trident Technical College (Practical Nursing)
In addition to the four institutions with 100 percent pass rates, an additional 13 institutions achieved a pass rate of 90 percent or higher in one or more program. The complete breakdown of rates by institution is available at: https://llr.sc.gov/nurse/stats.aspx
The CHE is actively involved in initiatives to address the nursing shortage in South Carolina. During the 2022 legislative session, the South Carolina General Assembly allocated a total of $10 million to the CHE for a Nursing Initiative to enhance the recruitment and retention of nursing faculty at colleges and universities. The CHE is working with partners across higher education, healthcare and the finance sector to effectively disburse the Nursing Initiative funding in two areas:
- To create more interest in nursing faculty positions and effectively broaden the state’s capacity to instruct more nursing students, $5M of the funding is being disbursed to the state’s public colleges and universities, including technical colleges, with accredited nursing programs to supplement the salaries of existing full-time faculty and the hourly rates of part time faculty, or the salaries of clinical nursing faculty.
- Allocation of $5M to provide tuition reimbursement or scholarships for students enrolled in graduate-level nurse educator programs, Doctor of Nursing Practice, or Ph.D. programs. This measure is intended to attract additional interest in the nursing education profession.
The work group will continue to formulate additional higher education-related strategies to help combat the nursing shortage.