Redefining NCLEX® Prep at Weatherford College

Weatherford College’s Alesia Armstrong Wiggs School of Nursing
In a groundbreaking move, Weatherford College has redefined its Vocational Nursing program by integrating UWorld's Learning Platform for Next Generation NCLEX throughout its lectures and labs. These changes resulted in increased engagement and critical thinking among its students.
Weatherford College’s Alesia Armstrong Wiggs School of Nursing
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Debra Weeks, a seasoned clinical instructor, has leveraged her extensive Med-Surg and ICU experience to positively impact the vocational nursing program at Weatherford College. Weeks strives to bring clinical insights into her teaching, and her instructional strategies go far beyond the traditional lecture or PowerPoint presentation. By integrating UWorld’s Next Generation NCLEX Case Studies throughout the VN curriculum, Weatherford College aims to develop students’ clinical judgment, deepen their understanding of critical nursing concepts, and increase NCLEX pass rates.

Bridging the Gap: A New Approach to NCLEX Mastery

Before integrating UWorld into Weatherford’s VN curriculum, Weeks and her colleagues grappled with how to teach their students to apply theoretical knowledge and develop their practical skills. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic severely limited face-to-face instruction and, as a result, reduced the availability of clinical sites for student placements. This situation often left students without the clinical hours necessary for graduation and unprepared for real-world clinical situations. Simply put, students weren’t guaranteed sufficient exposure to critical changes in patient conditions—something necessary for true clinical understanding. Many students would go an entire semester without seeing a change in a patient’s vital signs, never observing what a true medical emergency looked like in a clinical setting. With this issue in mind, Weeks and her colleagues asked the question, "How are [we] evaluating whether or not [our] students can pick up on and deal with a change in a patient's status?" They simply didn’t have a satisfying answer to this question.

The 2023 launch of the Next Generation NCLEX (NGN), which focused on clinical judgment, presented yet another significant challenge for Weatherford. The NGN introduced new question types designed to assess critical thinking, compelling the faculty to rethink their educational approach. Despite the faculty’s extensive experience, they recognized the need to shift from traditional teaching methods to more engaging, hands-on learning experiences. As Weeks' team considered their combined 200 years of nursing experience, they embraced the challenge to shift their instructional strategies to enhance their students' critical thinking abilities.

Transformative Integration and Immersive Learning

"So we posed the question, ‘How are you evaluating whether or not your students have the ability to pick up on and deal with a change in a patient's status?’ Really, we didn't have a great answer. And we wanted to have a great answer.” ~Lori Boyd

Weeks, alongside Vocational Nursing Director Lori Boyd, began to search for a solution that could support their goals for instructional transformation. They had previously experimented with various resources but found none adequately helped students grasp the clinical reasoning behind the answer choices. 

After extensive deliberation, Weatherford College incorporated UWorld into its curriculum, recognizing its reputation as a premier NCLEX preparation tool that offered detailed explanations for each answer choice, fostering a deeper comprehension of complex subjects. UWorld also supplied a wide array of clinical case studies closely resembling those found in the Next Generation NCLEX.

The department accessed UWorld's tools, but Weeks led its vigorous implementation. She initially introduced UWorld's QBank questions as additional practice during the school's winter break. Observing how UWorld’s question rationales helped her students understand complex nursing concepts, she began to regularly assign practice questions during her second and third semesters. Monitoring their progress using UWorld's reporting features, Weeks could easily track how well her students understood the NGN material. And so, she decided to leverage UWorld to create new learning opportunities that were truly hands-on.

Weeks began her class with a UWorld case study and transitioned to the simulation lab to finish guiding the students through the clinical scenario. By incorporating QR codes that detailed each step, Weeks transformed theoretical case studies into vivid clinical realities on mannequin patients.

Inspired by Weeks' innovative teaching methods, UWorld soon became a staple in the department's curriculum. Leveraging UWorld's case studies, instructors continued to develop simulation scenarios that replicated real-life situations, challenging students to apply their knowledge in a simulated clinical setting.

Two Weatherford College nursing students conduct a hands-on practicum using a UWorld case study.

As UWorld began to release its NCLEX instructional lecture videos, Weatherford faculty also integrated these into their lessons as pre-class assignments. Furthermore, they implemented UWorld assessments at the end of the second semester, utilizing the detailed reports for targeted remediation and assisting students individually where needed. UWorld's data also played a role in post-conference discussions, and instructors introduced "UWorld case study battles" as a motivational tool, underscoring the importance of student engagement:

“I assign the students to work in pairs, answering pre-selected NCLEX questions. They can discuss [each question] back and forth until they agree on their selected answer. Once all teams have submitted their responses, we discuss all the questions and [their] correct/incorrect choices. The group with the highest score gets less homework for the weekend; [it] really incentivizes them to do well!” ~Debra Weeks (UWorld Case Study Battles)

A New Echelon of NCLEX Excellence

The adoption of UWorld at Weatherford College marked a significant turning point, catapulting NCLEX-PN pass rates from 79% to nearly 95.3%, significantly above the national average. This success was truly a team effort. Every one of Weatherford’s VN instructors committed to integrating UWorld's rigorous questions and innovative case studies into clinical simulations and discussions, significantly enhancing students' understanding of nursing principles and boosting their confidence.

nclex-rn pass rates

The strategic use of UWorld has revitalized Weatherford's Vocational Nursing educational approach, enabling faculty to focus more on authentic student learning, critical thinking, and practical skillsets.

Projecting Forward: Weatherford College’s Continued Success

The successful integration of UWorld's comprehensive tools—from the NCLEX QBank and interactive case studies to dynamic instructional videos—has set new academic and clinical training standards in Weatherford College’s Vocational Nursing department. When reflecting on everything Weeks and the entire Weatherford VN faculty were able to accomplish, Mrs. Boyd emphasized the importance of quality test prep resources for instructors, as well as for students. “To be quite honest with you, a lot of people I know really have [it] in their heart that UWorld is for students, but we have a different approach to that. We think it’s for [educators]. And it was a game-changer.”

“To be quite honest with you, a lot of people I know really have [it] in their heart that UWorld is for students, but we have a different approach. We think it's for [educators]. And it was a game changer.” ~Lori Boyd

Looking forward, Weatherford’s Vocational Nursing faculty remains committed to its partnership with UWorld, continually striving to elevate the quality of nursing education. This sustained collaboration aims to nurture competent, confident, compassionate nursing professionals equipped for lifelong success and growth.


Weatherford College - Vocational Nursing Program:
Weatherford College. (n.d.). Vocational degree nursing. Retrieved April 2, 2024, from

YouTube Video:
Mcintosh, H. [Holly Mcintosh]. (2024, February 27th). Pericarditis [Video]. YouTube.

NCSBN 2023 NCLEX Pass Rates:
National Council of State Boards of Nursing. (2023). 2023 NCLEX pass rates. Retrieved April 2, 2024, from

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