Students from The University of New Mexico-Taos’ (UNM-Taos) Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs achieved a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX), surpassing both the national average pass rate (82 percent) and New Mexico state average pass rate (83 percent).

The NCLEX is a nationwide standardized examination that nursing school graduates must pass to become either a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse.

Dawn Kittner, director of nursing, says the achievement underscores the caliber of education and clinical experiences UNM-Taos nursing students receive.

“As a premier institution for educating the nursing workforce of tomorrow, UNM-Taos is proud that our graduates are exceeding both state and national averages on first-time pass rates for the National Council Licensure Exam,” Kittner said. “Every day, our outstanding nurse educators, excellent instruction, and high-quality, diverse clinical experiences help empower our hardworking students to perform at the highest level. With America facing a historic nursing shortage on top of 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 who will go on to serve their local communities.”

UNM-Taos serves a rural and largely Hispanic community. Many of its nursing students go on to serve within the local community following graduation. After implementing a concept-based curriculum in 2016, UNM-Taos leadership has witnessed its nursing students excel and successfully increased the program retention rate to 70 percent.

Outside of the classroom, students gain clinical experience in local hospitals and health care systems, school districts and family clinics, providing them with diverse, hands-on experience. A low nursing student-to-faculty ratio also enhances the learning experience at UNM-Taos, with nurse faculty equipped to provide personalized instruction to meet each student’s needs throughout the duration of the program.