School of Nursing appears back on track

Photo of FAMU School of Nursing students. Photo courtesy:

Since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the demand for nurses and healthcare professionals has been at an all-time high.

The Florida A&M University School of Nursing aims to produce top-notch and knowledgeable nurses. Despite accreditation mishaps in the past, the school is eager to welcome its Spring 2023 cohort to the program in January.

To be admitted, students must have a 3.1 GPA, maintain at least a B average in math and science courses, complete all program prerequisites, and make a passing score on the Test of Essential Academic Skills. Upon completion of all requirements and a submitted application, the school reviews student candidates for the competitive two-year professional program.

Grades and test scores help the School of Nursing determine who gets into the program. For the Spring 2023 cycle, there were 21 accepted students.

Willie Hankins, a School of Nursing adviser, says he enjoys his job and ensuring students understand their “why.”

“I help to ensure students follow and progress through their curriculum, taking the classes they need to take to be able to apply for the nursing program,” Hankins said. “I like to have students dig a little deeper and have the students understand and access their real reason for becoming a nurse. It is beyond academics — nurses are the essential caretakers of patients, meaning they have literal life or death in their hands. This has got to be a passion and one’s purpose in life. You have got to give nursing school your all.”

Javon Jackson, a second-year pre-nursing student from Tampa, recently got accepted and anticipates beginning the upper-level program in January. Jackson credits his “why” to his late grandfather. He said watching his grandfather’s experience in the hospital served as an inspiration to help others.

“Before his death, he was in and out of the hospital. From being there for him and being assimilated to what was around me, I fell in love with it, “Jackson said.

Jackson aims to be a travel trauma nurse, with hopes to explore the world and help as many people as he can. With his purpose in mind, Jackson is eager to start with a deep understanding of the hard work and perseverance that is to come.

“I have mixed emotions about the spring. I am very excited to begin and to start but I am also very nervous,” Jackson said. “I know that the program is not for the slight of heart and one must be very dedicated, which I am, but I acknowledge that it will not be an easy task, but in the end it will pay off.”

In 2021, FAMU’s School of Nursing lost its accreditation following the graduates’ 66.61% passage rate on the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX), this was below the Florida Board of Nursing’s requirement to meet the 91% national average. Following the school’s January 2022 evaluation, the school is now accredited until 2026.

Hankins credits this to the gap in learning during the pandemic but ensures systems have been implemented for students to succeed.

“Dean Johnson has brought a host of changes that are for the better, addressing the curriculum and putting things in place to help students,” Hankins said. “We now have a student success program where there are tutors to help support students while they go through the upper division of the program. We are constantly looking and evaluating how we can maintain our status in terms of accreditation and excel to higher heights.”

Jordyn Broadwater, a second-year pre-nursing student from Atlanta, said the accreditation issue didn’t scare her and she has plans to succeed in the program beginning in January.

“When I first found out about FAMU’s accreditation issue, I wasn’t worried because I didn’t think it would set me back,” Broadwater said. “I’m excited because I’m finally in the next chapter to reach my goals, my next step is to maintain my hard work and put my best foot forward in gaining the knowledge to take my career to the next level.”