Collegeatlas.org recently released its “Top 100 Nursing Schools,” ranking BYU’s College of Nursing No. 10 in the country.
College Atlas is an online encyclopedia that has been helping aspiring students and business professionals make better, more informed decisions about their higher education.
Creator of the rankings, Branden Neish, said they factor in four elements when creating their “A-list” algorithm to determine the rating: academic standing, affordability, accessibility and NCLEX-RN pass rate, which is the test nursing students are required to take and pass before practicing as registered nurses.
Academic standing is the highest weighted category. Neish and his team used the 2014 U.S. News Top colleges ranking, polled from over 1,800 schools, as the gold standard. Then, by using their own algorithm, they were able to narrow down the list.
“We wanted the schools to have a strong academic reputation,” Neish said.
“We do not have a doctoral program, and for us to be part of the Top 100 in the nation, that says our master-level program is quite exceptional,” said Jeff Perry, public relations director for BYU’s School of Nursing.
Affordability and accessibility were the next “A-factors” College Atlas considered in its ranking.
“We rewarded schools for having higher acceptance rates,” Neish said.
According to College Atlas, BYU has a 54.9 percent acceptance rate, which is one of the lowest acceptance rates among all the schools.
“We want well-rounded people, so we look at a variety of things; but academics are certainly an important part of it,” said dean of the College of Nursing, Patricia K. Ravert. “We usually have twice as many; sometimes more than twice as many qualified applicants than we can take.”
Ravert said because of their low acceptance rate into the program, the students are competitive, which can be difficult at times. When sorting through applicants, officials do not just look at GPA; they also want to know if the applicants write well and are service orientated.
“I always say, ‘Don’t you want the best nurse taking care of you?’” Ravert said.
The last factor Neish and his team considered was the schools’ NCLEX-RN pass rate. BYU performs well in this category.
“We are at a 98.2 percent first-time pass rate for registered nurses, and nationally, I think the average is around 85 percent,” Ravert said.
Ravert attributes the high percentage to the fact that the nursing students at BYU are bright and take the program seriously.
Neish and his team started to create rankings found on their website because other rankings focus on the wrong criteria for most students.
“We wanted to start producing a list that resonated with millions of students,” Neish said.
College Atlas wanted to inform aspiring students about accessible and affordable schools, not just schools that only apply to valedictorians or schools with expensive tuition rates.
Other than its great academic standing and excellent NCLEX pass rate, Ravert said its faith-based curriculum also sets BYU’s College of Nursing apart.
“Our college theme is ‘learn the healer’s art,’ so we really help our students strive to understand the overall caring for people, communities, and not just specifics in one area,” Ravert said. “By the time the students graduate they really understand that and have a real love for that, help others and help people be the best that they can be.”
Kirsten Wells, a junior in the nursing program, said she appreciates that the “nursing program emphasizes the spiritual needs of patients in addition to their physical needs. BYU’s College of Nursing teaches us how to become ministering angels by following the example of Christ, the ultimate healer.”
BYU’s nursing program strives to provide the best education for its students and to help them become leaders in the future.
“I think we need principle leaders in healthcare that have good ethics and who understand that. I know in the hospital systems, often times our graduates, not long after they graduate, end up in the leadership roles because they are great people and leaders,” Ravert said.
BYU’s College of Nursing is building a new simulations lab, which is planned to be ready for fall semester. People will be able to tour the new state-of-the-art facilities during Homecoming week.