The Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators is facing backlash after moving to an American practicing nurse licensing exam called the National Council Licensure Examination last January. All nurses are required to pass the licensing exam in order to begin practicing. These changes were brought forward because the CCRNR wanted to move to an online system with the NCLEX. However, this marked the end of the Canadian test, the College of Nurses of Ontario Registration Exam.

Carolyn Byrne, the Associate Dean and Director of the School of Nursing, is among those pushing for reassessment.

“We are the only country in the world, excluding the United States, that uses an American exam. [There was] no discussion about this, it was just announced that it was going to happen.”

Those who wrote the exam for the first time struggled with the American adjustments to the test, including the use of the generic names of drugs dominant in the U.S. and the use of the U.S. imperial system instead of the Canadian metric system.

Due to this gap between U.S. and Canadian convention, there was a drop from an average pass rate of 90 percent to 72 percent across Canada. This fall is indicative of a similar decline in the number of people who achieved a passing grade, with a drop from 94 percent to 85 percent for McMaster students.

“It’s very upsetting, you know? These are bright students,” said Byrne.

When asked about if there is a capacity for change with the CCRNR, Byrne said she does not know.

“But we are certainly fighting back. We did have a conversation with [the CCRNR] but to me at this point they’re not prepared to change anything.”

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree will not change their curriculum to suit the exam, but there has been an overwhelming response to support the students.

“In [Ontario] students only have three chances to write an exam. In the States sometimes they can write forever. We are trying to make changes. We would like a Canadian exam [but] I don’t know if we will get that. If we use NCLEX for the rest of this year, we would like to give students four chances to write rather than the three, with the fourth one being free. Say none of this changes, we are putting in special workshops to help the students learn how to write that exam,” said Byrne.

Photo Credit: School of Nursing

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