Most grads passing new nursing exam and becoming RNs

Alberta's nursing graduates are passing the new regulatory entry-to-practice exam and becoming registered nurses, with 83.9 per cent having passed by the end of 2015.

EDMONTON, March 31, 2016 /CNW/ - Last year, 1,637 graduates of Alberta registered nursing (RN) educational programs wrote the exam needed to begin working as a nurse. By the end of 2015, 83.9 per cent of these graduates had passed the exam. Of those who had not yet been successful, many still had attempts remaining.

In Alberta, nursing graduates must pass an exam approved by the country's provincial and territorial nursing regulators (except Quebec and Yukon).  Known as the NCLEX-RN, the exam is one of several requirements graduates must meet to ensure they have basic knowledge, skill and judgment to provide safe care to the public.

"We are pleased that 83.9 per cent of Alberta graduates successfully passed the NCLEX-RN exam during 2015," says CARNA CEO Mary-Anne Robinson.  "As familiarity with the exam increases, we expect first attempt pass rates to improve as both students and educational programs adjust to the new exam and its format.  As a regulator, we are concerned that Alberta graduates performed lower than the national average in the areas of management of care, safety and infection control and physiological adaptation because these are areas particularly related to patient safety.  We will continue to monitor ongoing performance in these particular areas going forward. "

The NCLEX-RN was implemented in 2015 by provincial/territorial regulators, replacing a previous pen-and-paper exam. The exam uses an approach to exam writing that is new to most graduates. While there was a drop in the pass rate on the first attempt of the new exam in 2015, the pass rate on the second attempt was higher than previous years.  The exam's content is covered by the Canadian curriculum taught in the country's nursing education programs.  Some of the areas the exam tests include the graduate's ability to:

  • assess and respond to changes in vital signs
  • perform comprehensive health assessments 
  • assess a client's need for pain management  
  • perform calculations needed to safely administer medications
  • maintain client confidentiality and privacy

The 2015 Canada-wide report on the exam for registered nurses is available at and the 2015 Alberta report on results of all nursing exams is available at


The College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) is the regulatory college and professional association for Alberta's more than 37,000 registered nurses including nurses in direct care, education, research and administration as well as nurse practitioners. CARNA's mandate is to serve the public through regulating registered nurses in order to promote and support safe, competent, ethical nursing care.  

Twitter: @AlbertaRNs

SOURCE College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

For further information: Media Inquiries: Margaret Ward-Jack, Tel: 780.453.0515, Cell: 780.932.1376, Email:


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