Canadian and American nurses will now be writing the same exam for entry into the nursing profession. The NCLEX-RN will be measuring the preparedness of nursing students in both Canada and the United States. While some nurses are excited about being certified under the broader umbrella, others are worried that the American testing format may jeopardize their potential for approval.
One of the early fears was that the test would be administered in an imperial format. This, of course, would be completely unfair for Canadian nursing students. Rest assured, the Canadian format of the NCLEX-RN uses metric measurements.
Another fear of Canadian students is that the test will be biased towards a private healthcare model. Canadian nursing boards promise this will not be the case.
Bill Clarke, from the College of Nurses of Ontario, stresses that the test is in place to evaluate the skill, knowledge and judgment of Canadian nurses. "This exam does not test the writer's knowledge of different legislation or policies, cultural values or health care environments. It only tests what is required for entry-level nursing practice, and helps ensure that applicants will be able to provide safe care as they begin their nursing careers."
The most obvious change will be the exam question format. The NCLEX uses a computer-adapted test that varies questions depending on the answers given during an initial question period. This change does not favour an American education.
Some nursing schools in Canada have started to workshop NCLEX exam taking scenarios that mimic the adaptive test format. Many nurses are looking to private education training like the classes being taught by PRIMED Educational Associates. PRIMED offers NCLEX review sessions that focus on specific material while providing students with valuable test-taking strategies for computer-adapted testing.
The first round of tests is this January. It will be interesting to see how Canadian students fair against their American counterparts. There are already plans in place to audit all of the Canadian nurses that were tested in 2015 at the end of the year. This process, along with other checks and balances, will help Canadian nurses and educators gauge the effectiveness of the exam.