Health sciences students pass tests with flying colors

Recently, the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences 2013 academic year pass rates on licensure examinations and tests were announced recently and university officials were pleased with the results.

Physician assistant received 98 percent, physical therapy 95 percent, nursing 93 percent, occupational therapy 90 percent, radiologic science 100 percent and respiratory therapy with 100 percent passing rates.

Steven Mauro, Ph.D., dean of Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences, said he is happy with the pass rate results, but that there’s always room for improvement.

“You can be happy for what you’ve done, but it doesn’t hurt to strive for perfection,” Mauro said. “Next year maybe we can get four or five programs at 100 percent pass rate – that would make me even happier.”

Patricia Marshall, director and assistant professor of the nursing program, said 70 students took the state board examination and the 93 percent passing rate was the highest among graduates of universities in the region.

Edinboro University received 76.9 percent on its nursing state board, while Duquesne University received 83.8 percent and had 68 students take the exam.

The United States pass rate for the nursing state board exam has an average of 80.78 percent, which Gannon is well above with a 93 percent rate.

“I think that a lot of the student success in the nursing program at Gannon is because of the faculty mentorship that we provide to the students prior to their licensure exams,” Marshall said. “The faculty provides mentoring on a voluntary bases.”

The nursing program at Gannon is rigorous, individualized and the students and faculty work hard to meet high standards, Marshall, who has headed the program for 14 years, said.

Passing the state boards is only a small part of the outcome for nursing students, Marshall said.

“We like to see the students be people that are caring, can demonstrate compassion and also critical thinking,” Marshall said. “Once students get their first job in the nursing field, we want them to use the critical thinking they have developed at Gannon and also take on leadership roles.”

Radiologic science program graduates achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the national certification exam. This is the 13th time in 14 years that the radiologic science program had a 100 percent pass rate.

Cynthia Liotta, director and assistant professor in the radiologic science program, has been teaching at Gannon for 25 years and has been the director for the two-year radiologic science program for roughly 15 years.

The faculty in the program works very hard to educate and prepare students for the world they are going to walk into, Liotta said.

“We’re a small faculty so we talk multiple times a day about student performances and how to integrate classes so the concepts make sense,” Liotta said. “The faculty trusts each other – which is important because we’re not afraid to address one another.”

The students’ and faculty’s hard work in a matter of two years resulted in the 100 percent pass rate, Liotta said.

“We’re taking 18 year olds and putting them into a health care environment and it’s different to them,” Liotta said. “They have to go through a lot of changes and they have to do it quickly, but it’s a good feeling to see the students transform.”

The respiratory therapy entry-level certification exam taken by graduates also had a pass rate of 100 percent.

Gannon provides a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy, Charles Cornfield, director and assistant professor of the respiratory therapy program, said.

“Students at Gannon have a strong background in the liberal arts as well as the sciences,” Cornfield said. “Between my co-worker – Robert Tarkowski — and I, we have a lot of experience with respiratory therapy and education.”

Cornfield has been teaching at Gannon and serving as the director of the respiratory therapy program for 20 years.

The physical therapy pass rate on the national physical therapy examination was 95 percent.

Dr. Kristine Legters, director and associate professor of the physical therapy program, assesses the curriculum and identifies ways to ensure students are prepared for the licensing exam.

The physical therapy program provides practice questions and exams, as well as studying tactics in preparation for the examination, Legters said.

“All faculty members work together – faculty meetings, informal conversations and curriculum retreats – to ensure that we know what each other are teaching in different courses,” Legters said. “Communication with each other is the key.”

It is important that the curriculum provided to the students in the physical therapy program is current and relevant to clinical practice, Letgers said. The students need to be able to apply information they learn to real life.

The physician assistant five-year master’s program pass rate for the 2013 academic year was 98 percent.

Michele Kauffman, director of the physician assistant program, said the program at Gannon has a great reputation and experienced faculty.

“The faculty is always looking for new ideas to improve the program by attending national meetings for physician assistant educators,” Kauffman said.

Kauffman has been director of the physician assistant program for 16 ½ years and would like to see a 100 percent pass rate on the boards for the graduate students in the future.

This is Mauro’s first year as the dean of Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences and said that Carolynn Masters – former dean – has been a great person to seek advice from.

The faculty in the health profession programs are fantastic, Mauro said.

“I know they are highly respected professionals in their field and they care deeply about the success of their students,” Mauro said. “Everything the faculty does revolves around student success.”


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