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The few, the well-trained

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July 12, 2006

Albany -- For the first time in ten years, all of Albany State's recent nursing graduates passed the state nursing exams on their first try. ASU attributes that success to stricter requirements for getting into the college's nursing program and for staying in it until graduation.

And students say they are well-prepared to give high quality health care.  Enika McClain is one of four recent ASU nursing graduates.  "I was the last one to take the exam," says McClain. All four passed the state licensing exam on their first attempt.  "All my other classmates had already passed it, so it was up to me to finish the job. And we did it."

Dean of Science and Health Professions Joyce Y. Johnson credits their success to tougher requirements. She says ASU now requires students have at least a 2.75 grade point average to be accepted into the program.  "Which is higher than any other program in the university," she said.

Students must pass an entrance exam, and once accepted into the program, the demands continue.  "We've asked them to decrease their workloads outside of their studies. They've made great sacrifices," said Johnson.  

"If you have a life, you have to forget about it. It's just strictly nursing," said McClain.

Strictly nursing because students must also pass a series of tests throughout the program. "They have to demonstrate mastery of the material before the move onto the next course," said Johnson. 

Those tough requirements whittled what was a class of 60 students to just four by graduation day. "Every class you take, every semester is very important, because all of it in the ends links back to one complete, you can say, patient. Therefore if you miss one step, you have missed all," said Johnson.

McClain jokes she'll now get her life back, but is glad to have gone through what she calls a top-notch nursing program. "I'm very confident that I can go into any hospital and do well," said McClain.

And if she and her classmates are better nurses, heath care in southwest Georgia, where the plan to work, will be better too.

Albany State is also getting a new clinical simulation nursing lab. It will be paid for with state money and will give students more life-like and hands-on experience.

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