For Civita Allard, the key to helping nursing students pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is simple: “Confidence,” she says. “They need someone to tell them they have the ability to pass.”
Allard, associate professor of nursing at Utica College, has been preparing students for the nursing licensure exam for decades. She’s developed materials and coursework that help students learn strategies for passing the notoriously difficult test, required in the U.S. for certification as a Registered Nurse. But in 2014, Allard embarked on a unique effort to share her methods with future nurses in Saudi Arabia.
In March 2014, Allard received a phone call from a former colleague, who now worked with King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The hospital, one of the country’s best, was eager to adopt American practices for training and licensing its nurses.
“There is no standardized testing or licensure for nurses in Saudi Arabia,” explains Allard. “When they graduate, they do an internship and become nurses. For some, that’s not enough preparation.”
Allard’s colleague asked if she could help the hospital administration institute new practices for training, modeled after the American system, and prepare Saudi nurses for the NCLEX. She jumped at the opportunity.
Over the course of two nearly month-long visits to Riyadh, Allard has met with groups of nurses and administrators to adapt her NCLEX training program, with several more visits planned for 2017. In the process, she’s become familiar with many of the differences between American healthcare and the Saudi system, which provides free healthcare through the government’s Ministry of Health.
Similarly, the language barrier proved an unexpected obstacle for Allard when reviewing NCLEX test questions, where American expressions and idioms are common.
“A question that refers to ‘butterflies in the stomach’ means something very different to someone unfamiliar with that expression,” she says with a laugh.
By instituting the NCLEX exam, Allard says, officials at King Faisal are taking steps to improve their overall standard of care—a process she hopes will inspire other Saudi hospitals to do the same.
On a more personal level, the training Allard provides gives Saudi nurses the opportunity to achieve greater success and earn more money in the healthcare field.
Says Allard: “For these nurses, it’s about removing barriers to career advancement.”