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Tennessee Tech students earn 97% pass rate on nursing licensure exam
Tennessee Tech

COOKEVILLE, TN - Graduates of Tennessee Tech University’s Whitson-Hester School of Nursing earned a 97 percent pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in 2022.

Tech graduates outperformed every other Tennessee public and private four-year university with 15 or more graduates in its program, according to recently released statewide data. Tech graduates also performed better than the state and national averages for first time test-takers.

The nationwide NCLEX pass rate for first time takers was 80 percent in 2022 while Tennessee earned an average pass rate of 86 percent.

Kim Hanna, Ph.D., MSN, RN, CNL, dean of the nursing school, attributes Tech’s high marks to its motivated students and dedicated faculty and staff.

“I am very proud of the students and our graduates,” said Hanna. “And I am honored to be where we are at this point. A lot of it is because we have excellent faculty, excellent staff, and we have support from the administration and the resources we need to carry on the program.”

Hanna explained that Tech has long made NCLEX passage a priority of its nursing program, even setting aside resources for a nursing student emergency fund for those who may need added support to remain in the program and pass their exam. Tech’s nursing curriculum also includes a licensure prep class that students take the last semester of their senior year to better equip them for success.

Tech’s near-universal NCLEX pass rate comes as the nation is facing a critical shortage of nursing professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 203,000 openings for registered nurses each year through 2031.

“Everybody is wanting nurses, and Tech nursing students have an excellent reputation,” explained Hanna. “Our job placement rate is essentially 100 percent for our graduates. They are highly sought after.”

Tech is answering the call for more registered nurses by offering an accelerated program that allows students with a degree in another field of study to enter nursing school in May and earn their nursing degree in August of the following year, provided that they have already satisfied certain general education requirements.

Hanna sees Tech’s role as a training ground for nurses across the region as a matter of duty.

“It means everything to our community,” Hanna added. “We need nurses that are competent and qualified. That is a major goal of our faculty – to graduate nurses that we would feel comfortable taking care of our own families. The rigor is there because we want high quality so they can serve our community the best way they can.”

Learn more about Tech’s Whitson-Hester School of Nursing at