Delaware State University students seek funds to take nursing exam

DOVER — Brittany Abernathy knew she wanted to be a nurse since she was in high school. A senior nursing student in college now, she and her cohorts at Delaware State University are ready to get in the field — but the financial hurdle of certification stands between eight students in the program and their licenses.

“We’re excited to graduate, we’re excited to get in the field and work and to help people, especially with everything that is going on,” Ms. Abernathy said. “I know I would hate, and my other classmates would hate, for people to be put on pause because they can’t pay for a test that they’re required to take.”

The hurdle comes mostly from coronavirus, as the pandemic has closed or drastically altered businesses throughout the state and country, impacting the income for students with part-time jobs, or their parents who may have been able to help them.

“We’re getting calls from our instructors saying now’s the time to start applying to the NCLEX. The fees are astronomical for most of us,” said Tabitha Scheibe, a nursing student. “A lot of our students work part-time jobs and have been laid off.”

“Because our program is very demanding,” Ms. Scheibe said. They’re mostly part time employees or not working at all. Students are also usually claimed dependents, and aren’t getting stimulus checks, she added.

The NCLEX is the exam students need to pass for their nursing license. It too is facing changes and modifications due to coronavirus, but testing is continuing. According to the website, testing is available in major metropolitan areas across the U.S. To increase the number of candidates who can test, but maintain social distancing, the exams have been modified but difficulty level and passing standard has not changed, the website said.

Fees to take the exam are approximately $200, Ms. Scheibe said. The university is offering to refund the cost of the test should students pass it on the first try, she said.

But the fee for taking the test isn’t the only thing students have to worry about — there’s also background checks, licensing classes, exam scheduling costs, Ms. Scheibe said.

So she and her peers decided to create a GoFundMe to cover the costs for eight classmates in the program. By Monday, the student nurses had raised more than $2,000 of the $3,455 goal.

Last week, a post on the GoFundMe said that with the funding, all eight students cleared the first hurdle and can afford registering for the test. The post added that additional funding assists with other fees.

Since the university closed, the students are spread out, from Delaware to Maryland to New York to California, Ms. Scheibe said. Despite the distance, the students are all still working to complete their courses, including finishing a capstone to prepare for the NCLEX, so they can attain their degrees in May.

“This was not an isolated incident,” Ms. Scheibe said. “There are a bunch of student nurses waiting to graduate in May and we don’t have the money to pay to take the exam, so I don’t think that it’s just my school and my eight students that are having this issue. I think it’s a problem nationwide.”

“We’re really eager to get out there and work and help our own peers and just people that populate the U.S.,” added Ms. Abernathy.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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