SAU Nursing likely to rise above national average

nursingMore than a dozen initiatives at SAU Nursing last year have paid off as May graduates will likely have topped the national average for pass rate of the nursing NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination).

Although official NCLEX results will not be available until after this publication has gone to print in August, Dr. Brenda Trigg, chair of SAU’s Department of Nursing, said the pass rate as of June 30 was at 92% for the 2016 graduating class.

Trigg has a long list of items that helped contribute to this success, which include completed internal reviews of curriculum and an internal program evaluation, both followed by updates being made as needed. External consultants also provided program recommendations.

Above all were highlights to emphasize educator teaching and student learning. Decreasing class sizes promoted greater faculty/student engagement, and a retention director was appointed to track retention and direct mediation. Faculty mentors were assigned and senior-level mentors were matched up with junior-level students. Faculty members held student study laboratories and each senior student had access to personalized coaches with the use of an outside learning system. Faculty development was provided and the use of the latest evidence-based teaching practices promoted student critical thinking.

“Students and students’ success are the focuses of the SAU Nursing program, and we are committed to providing students with opportunities for intellectual growth through cultivating compassion, communication, and skill development for career preparation in a global environment,” said Trigg.

She also excitedly shared news of how this student focus is continuing to produce positive updates as SAU Nursing will begin to admit students in the fall and the spring. Previously, with only fall enrollment, many qualified applicants could not be accepted due to limited space in the program. This two-cohort admission process will allow not only for more nursing students, but will keep admission numbers lower per semester to provide for more individualized attention between faculty members and students. More nursing graduates will also help alleviate nursing shortages in the region.

Application for spring 2017 will be accepted between August 15 and October 15, 2016. More information and the application can be found at

Looking back through the 2015-16 academic year, the NCLEX results seem to only reiterate the high achievement demonstrated in the department. Thirty SAU senior BSN students represented nearly half the total accepted undergraduate research posters presented at the UAMS Research Day in Little Rock in late April. SAU’s Mallory Reeves also brought home the top honor with her first-place poster presentation – Factors of adaptation to relocation later in life: A literature review.

Reeves also accompanied three of her peers – Marely Adams, Ashley Hodnett, and Sarah Vaughn – and Dr. Becky Parnell on a medical mission trip to Nicaragua. This new Nursing Beyond the Borders course included classroom time learning about the country of Nicaragua, the health care delivery system, common medical problems along and their treatments, and a few medical terms in Spanish. The group then traveled to Leon, Nicaragua, from January 9-16, 2016. During the trip the students participated in four days of medical clinics where 507 patients were seen. The students worked in the triage area, pharmacy, and healthcare provider examination rooms. SAU students also visited feeding centers in remote areas of Nicaragua and fed large crowds of children.

“Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Their houses are often made of sticks and plastic. However, the people of Nicaragua are so warm, so welcoming. They’re genuine and kind and most of all, they’re happy,” said Hodnett. “On the last day of the trip, we were given the chance to stop by one of the food banks that Voice of Hope has set up. There is something very humbling involved with watching children race to their one meal a day with buckets in their hands.”

The SAU Foundation provided travel scholarships to fund these opportunities. Additional support also provided for substantial facility upgrades, which were celebrated in the spring.

The Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust provided a generous $40,000 gift, which was recognized on January 8, 2016, with the dedication ceremony of the Sturgis Auditorium at the Wharton Nursing Building. These funds were combined with support from alumni and friends who purchased seats through the Name-A-Seat Campaign to allow for renovation of the lecture hall with new auditorium seats, larger laptops, lighting upgrades, new carpet and fresh paint, and an upgrade in wireless internet. There is still time for alumni and friends of SAU to purchase a seat for in the auditorium $250. To purchase a seat, visit or call 870-235-4078.

Thanks to a $149,128 grant from the Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Blue & You Foundation, SAU Nursing also was able to dedicate this spring the Blue and You Health Sciences Simulation Center in Wharton. The grant supported the purchase of equipment that included hospital beds, crash carts, AED trainer, CPR trainers, mobile medication center, and audio-visual equipment with recording capabilities. SAU now has a facility to provide high-quality educational opportunities for students and regional professionals. The Center is comprised of four studios, each with control rooms attached for viewing and recording sessions. There is also a private area for facilitated and reflective debriefing. The available simulation environments will include Medical-Surgical, ICU, ER, and Labor and Delivery. High-fidelity simulators (HFS) are used in each room to enhance the realistic environment needed for successful simulation experiences.

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