What You Need to Know as an International Nurse

What You Need to Know as an International Nurse

Similar to American nursing students, a graduate of an international nursing program must still pass the NCLEX-RN exam to be licensed to work in the United States. Because your preparation and training is typically not the same as observed in American programs, international students must prepared differently for the NCLEX exam.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), in 2016 the pass rate for first time internationally trained nurse graduates is about 39%, compared to a first time pass rate of 85% for U.S. students taking the test for the first time.

Why is the international pass rate so low?


1.) Differences in Roles and Responsibilities


A major surprise of international nursing graduates is the level of responsibility really required from nurses (especially registered nurses) in the United States. Nurses working in the United States must be able to give medication while also remaining aware of potential complication and risk; balance a patient’s care plan; prioritize among multiple demanding tasks; and make judgments about patient care, while intervening when appropriate.

The NCLEX tests the candidate on all these factors. Because international medical systems generally rely on the physician for patient care, nursing students from other countries are not prepared to take on the duties as outlined above.

2.) Different Protocols and Procedures

Disease infection rates, medical condition occurrences, and the most commonly performed procedures varies between countries. Thus, there is a natural difference in performed protocols. Unfamiliarity with key differences between your country of origin and the American medical system can increase the difficulty of the exam.

3.) Nursing Care Focus

A commonly shared insight from international nursing students is the difference in focused care for the patients. Foreign countries tend to focus more on the patient’s psychosocial needs, contrary to American medical culture. American medical systems focus on the patient’s needs and potential risks and complications in order to restore their health and prevent worsening signs and symptoms.

These are just three factors that prevent international nursing graduates from achieving success on the NCLEX exam.

Did you find this information helpful? Are you seeking additional insight?

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