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UWF nursing graduates post top scores on national licensure exam 

The University of West Florida School of Nursing topped the state and national averages for 2020 by wide margins, as 95.97% of its graduates passed the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurses on their first attempt. UWF surpassed the national average for first-time pass rate by over five percentage points and exceeded the state mark by nearly 10 points. 

UWF nursing student in the Nursing Skills and Simulation Learning Center

NCLEX-RN is a nationwide examination for the licensing of registered nurses. Each board of nursing in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories—American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands—requires college graduates to pass the exam for their nursing license. In 2020, 119 UWF nursing graduates earned their license by passing the NCLEX. 

“Locally, hospital administrators have indicated to us that they need our graduates,” said Dr. Crystal Bennett, interim chair of the UWF School of Nursing which is housed in the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health. “There is a need for more nurses and we graduate quality nurses each year. Our nursing graduates are committed to providing a high level of patient care, with a wealth of knowledge they gained during their studies at UWF.”

The number of registered nurses in the U.S. is approximately 4 million, topping all other health care professions, according to the American Nurses Association. Bennett  pointed out that the average age of RNs is 48-50 and that preparing future generations to fill looming vacancies is crucial for the U.S. health care system. The median salary for RNs is $73,300 and job growth is expected to increase by 7% during the next eight years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

“It has never been more important to ensure that we have a well-prepared nursing workforce,” said Cynde Gamache, system chief nursing officer and vice president of ancillary and patient care services for Baptist Health Care. “We need nurses with the necessary skills to meet the health care needs of our community and fulfill our mission of helping people throughout life’s journey. We are grateful that UWF nursing graduates have the preparation, solid foundation and skills for successful transition into the clinical practice setting.”

In February, Dr. D.W. McMillan BSN Nursing Program alumna Madison Rondeau ’20 passed the NCLEX with relative ease. She credited the UWF nursing faculty for thoroughly preparing her for the exam, providing her resources throughout her studies and after she graduated.

“The UWF faculty test us at a higher standard, so when we take the exam, it’s kind of a breeze,” Rondeau said. “I love feeling so equipped and supported.”
Within days of passing the exam, Rondeau accepted a nursing position in the neonatal intensive care unit at Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart. Rondeau spent the Fall 2020 semester in the NICU at Sacred Heart as part of her preceptorship.

“For my last semester of nursing school, I was able to make valuable connections and it’s by the sweet gift of God that I was offered this job,” Rondeau said. “I’m so thankful to the UWF School of Nursing for really preparing us well to be exceptional nurses.” 

For more information about the UWF School of Nursing and the different degree programs offered, visit