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Searcy nursing instructor selected as NCLEX item writer for fourth yearOriginally Published September 1, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated August 30, 2013 at 9:32 a.m.
SEARCY — Cindy Smith, practical-nursing instructor at the Arkansas State University-Beebe Searcy campus, was selected this year as an item writer for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses and Practical Nurses.
“The questions we write are critical-thinking questions,” she said. “Nurses have to walk into a patient’s room and take care of what they find.”
Smith and her fellow writers create questions to challenge potential nurses to think and put themselves into potential situations they might encounter in their nursing careers.
All nurses in the United States must pass the NCLEX in order to receive a nursing license.
“I’ve [written items] for the last four years,” Smith said. She, along with nine other nurses from across the nation, were selected to go to Chicago July 15-18 to write questions for the licensure exam.
The examination changes every year, and Smith said the questions she and other writers come up with are reviewed by nurses who work in a clinical setting.
“It’s not just instructors who write the questions,” she said. “They are nurses from across the country.”
Parts of the nursing field are constantly changing, Smith said, and it is important that the questions she and her colleagues write reflect situations that could occur any day in a nursing setting.
“[Reviewers] make sure the questions we write are feasible,” she said. “We have to stay current.”
Smith has been an instructor at ASU’s Searcy campus for 17 years.
While she was in nursing school, Smith said, she found her niche for teaching others.
“We had to do a teaching project, and I taught new mommies how to care for babies who had problems,” she said.
After seeing her work make a difference in new parents’ lives, she knew she wanted to be an educator.
She graduated from nursing school in 1992, Smith said, and worked as a registered nurse at White County Medical Center for seven years before becoming an instructor.
While she was working for the hospital, she held the title of nurse educator. With that title, she shared her experiences in the nursing field with new nurses and was able to prepare them for some situations they could expect to encounter in their careers.
She said her real-world experience in the nursing field helps her each day as she teaches future nurses at the university.
“The best feeling is knowing you can let [your students] go, and they’ll be a good nurse,” Smith said.
Though she can’t share the questions she writes for the NCLEX with her students, Smith said, she challenges them to think, and she admits that her exams are tough.
After her students graduate, she said, they come back and thank her for the difficulty of her classes because they apply skills they learned in her classes every day in their careers.
“I love it when students can walk into a room with a patient, and they can handle the patient situation,” she said.
Zoned Editions Staff Writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.