Florida’s performance on the National Council Licensure Examination for nurses ranks among the lowest in the nation, with both registered and practical nurses’ pass rates significantly below the national average, despite leading in the number of test-takers.
Florida’s performance on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for nurses is among the lowest in the United States, with pass rates significantly trailing behind national averages for both registered and practical nurses.
The state’s National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) pass rate for 2023 stands at 76.75 percent, placing Florida at 52nd out of 55 jurisdictions, falling below the national average of 88.56 percent. Similarly, for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN), Florida’s pass rate was 74.87 percent, ranking 52nd out of 54 jurisdictions, and trailing the national average of 86.67 percent. However, the state’s first-time pass rates increased from 2022 to 2023.
Florida led the nation in the number of candidates taking the NCLEX-RN, with 18,178 individuals or 9.75 percent of the nation’s total of 186,350 first-time candidates coming from the state. The state also contributed 3,251 candidates, or 6.84 percent, to the national total of 47,552 first-time NCLEX-PN test-takers, accounting for 21,429, or 9.16 percent, of the United States’ 233,902 first-time NCLEX candidates.
Of these test-takers, 5,644 held baccalaureate degrees, 11,224 had associate degrees, 14 possessed diplomas, and 1,296 were categorized under special program codes.
The state has consistently fallen below national averages across the past decade, blighted by a 63.88 percent passage rate in 2022.
“Florida’s pass rates falling below the national average has been a consistent trend over the past 4 years for both NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN rates,” states the Florida Center for Nursing’s 2023 NCLEX Report, which is published on an annual basis in accordance with state statute.
From 2020 through 2022, private for-profit institutions had the greatest number of NCLEX-RN test takers but lower NCLEX-RN pass rates than private nonprofit and public institutions. In 2023, Florida’s public programs (87.63 percent) produced the greatest number of NCLEX-RN test takers and had higher pass rates than private nonprofit programs (87.47 percent) and private for-profit programs (71.34 percent).
The report also identified that candidates who took the NCLEX within the first month following their graduation achieved the highest pass rates, while those who postponed their examination to two months after graduating experienced lower pass rates compared to their counterparts who tested sooner after their graduation date.
Before a nurse may obtain a license to practice, certain requirements must be met, including earning a degree from a program that is recognized or authorized, fulfilling the prerequisites established by the Florida State Board of Nursing, and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The number of candidates that pass the NCLEX is typically used as an indicator of the number of new nurses entering the nursing workforce, with the NCLEX first attempt pass rate serving as a measure of prelicensure nursing program effectiveness.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of registered nurses in the coming years, resulting in a deficit of 130,000 nurses by 2025. Stateside, Florida is projected to see a nursing workforce deficit of 60,000 nurses by 2035, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.