Caldwell University School of Nursing

In September 2022, HFNJ provided Caldwell University a $193,923 grant to improve the quality of nursing instruction at Caldwell by modernizing the simulation and nursing skills labs with new equipment; adding new personnel; and creating new opportunities for students.

The shortage of qualified nurses in our area is dire. Even before the pandemic, 17% of hospital staff nurse jobs were unfilled, and experts predict that New Jersey will need 40,000 additional nurses in the coming years to fill the demand.

The grant from HFNJ helped Caldwell improve the nursing program to ensure greater student success.  After examining their technological needs, Caldwell purchased and put into place a new “Nurse Anne” high-fidelity manikin simulator, as well as eight low fidelity simulators. These give nurses-in-training a low-risk way to practice fundamental skills in handling patients. Caldwell hired a new part-time lab instructor to allow students more time in the simulation and nursing labs. Also due to this grant, during the 2022-23 academic year, every senior nursing student was provided with a placement in a Dedicated Education Unit at a local medical center, with partners including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Cooperman Barbabas Medical Center, and Overlook Medical Center.

The most pressing issue facing the nursing school during this grant period was the dramatic drop in the passage rates for first-time test takers of the NCLEX licensing exam. In 2022 – a cohort whose nursing school years were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – the pass rate for first-time test-takers dropped to a historic low of 66.23%. If not improved, this low passage rate threatened the accreditation of Caldwell’s nursing program. In response – and thanks to a budget modification approved through this grant – Caldwell directed more resources toward test preparation, including an onsite 3-day test prep with Kaplan Review.  As a result, the passage rate for the first quarter of 2023 rose to 84%, and Caldwell’s nursing students achieved a 100% passage rate in the second quarter.

The capital equipment purchased through this project will continue to be used by Caldwell nursing students for years to come – hopefully resulting in future cadres of well-trained, well-qualified nurses continuing to emerge from Caldwell’s nursing program.