UNM-Taos Achieves 100% Pass Rate in National Nursing Licensure Examination for Fifth Consecutive Year


The pass rate exceeds state and national averages at a time of unprecedented nursing needs.

Students graduating from the University of New Mexico-Taos nursing program achieved a 100% pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for the fifth consecutive year, surpassing both the 82% national average pass rate and 83% Mexico state average pass rate.

The NCLEX is a nationally standardized exam that nursing school graduates must pass to become an RN or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and enter the workforce.

This is a major achievement, as nursing programs across the country have seen declining pass rates over the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing shows the national average the first-time NCLEX pass rate was 82.48% for RN candidates and 79.6% for PN candidates in 2021down 83.51% and 85.3% in 2019, respectively.

“Every day, our outstanding nurse educators, excellent instruction, and diverse, high-quality clinical experiences help our hard-working students perform at the highest level,” says Dawn Kittner, MSN, RN, CNE, Director of Nursing. “With America facing a historic shortage of nurses in addition to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for UNM-Taos to invest in the next generation of nursing talent.

UNM-Taos serves a rural and largely Hispanic community, and many of its nursing students continue to serve the local community after graduating as ready-to-practice nurses.

After implementing a concept-based curriculum in 2016 with a low nursing student-to-faculty ratio, UNM-Taos increased its program retention rate to 70%, which is higher than the state average.

Outside of the classroom, students gain clinical experience at local hospitals and health systems, school districts, family clinics, the Department of Health, and behavioral health centers.

Such success at UNM-Taos is remarkable, particularly because the shortage of nurses in the United States is partly attributed to a crisis in nursing education.

With falling school enrollment rates, a severe shortage that has left 7% of nursing faculty positions are vacantthe limited capacity of the program which forced nursing schools to close almost 92,000 qualified candidates baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs last year, and the high attrition rate among nursing students and new graduates, there are many challenges preventing students from staying and graduating in Nursing.

UNM-Taos has been able to overcome these challenges through innovative technology education support tools, a dedicated and knowledgeable faculty, and a concept-based curriculum, according to the university.

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


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