Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Charles Achilles, EdD, Chair

Committee Member

William Price, PhD

Committee Member

Barbara Scheffer, EdD


Background: NCLEX-RN pass rate data for first-time candidates is used as a method to assess the quality of nursing education programs by nursing education accreditation bodies. In several states, the board of nursing uses NCLEX-RN pass rate data to measure the educational effectiveness of nursing programs operating within its’ jurisdiction. Educators and administrators in nursing programs are concerned about NCLEX-RN pass rates for firsttime candidates who are graduates of their nursing programs. Journals for nurse educators and administrators include articles regarding variables affecting success and/or failure on the NCLEX-RN. Most of the identified variables are academic in nature (GPA, ACT/SAT scores, scores on standardized entrance/exit exams). Little information is available regarding other possible variables, both internal and external to nursing programs, which may affect NCLEX-RN pass rates for first-time candidates. One variable that could be studied is the influence of participation in student nurse extern programs on NCLEX-RN pass rates.

Purpose: To determine if participation in a student nurse extern program had any influence on NCLEX-RN pass rates for first-time candidates.

Setting/Subjects: The graduates of nursing programs who applied for initial RN licensure in the State of Michigan between April 1, 2004, and September 30, 2005, were the identified population for this study. A total of 252 persons participated in the study.

Research Design: Randomized sampling technique was used for this non-experimental study, which had a descriptive research objective and a cross-sectional time dimension.

Data Collection and Analysis: A questionnaire developed for this study was mailed to 600 persons in January and February 2006. A return rate of 42% was achieved (n = 252). Analyses of demographic and descriptive data indicated that the respondents closely reflected population characteristics of RNs as described by the 2000 National Sample Survey of RNs and the population characteristics gathered by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Participation in a student nurse extern program was reported by 90 respondents, and 162 respondents indicated they did not participate in a student nurse extern program. Pertinent data were used to examine the null hypothesis through Chi-Square testing as the data were nominal. Results indicated X2 = 4.19 (df = 1) and were significant at p ≤ 0.05.

Findings: Persons who had participated in student nurse extern programs were more likely to pass the NCLEX-RN as first-time candidates than persons who had not participated in student nurse extern programs. The extern experience was perceived to have had a positive or very positive effect on their ability to pass the NCLEX-RN by 64.4% of the persons who had participated in such a program. Comments from respondents indicated that the interactions that occurred between and among person, environment, and behavior in a student nurse extern program had an effect on the goal of passing the NCLEX-RN

Conclusion: Findings from this study provided supporting evidence suggesting that participation in a student nurse extern program may positively influence NCLEX-RN pass rates for first-time candidates.


Additional committee member: Nancy Schoofs, PhD