March 18, 2022

 GBCC nursing students have consistently tested above the national average, with pass rates between 88% and 98%.

PORTSMOUTH – Students who graduate from the nursing program at Great Bay Community College continue to outperform their colleagues across the country in industry licensing exams.

Great Bay nursing students who graduated with associate degrees in 2021 enjoyed a pass rate of 98 percent for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Statewide, the pass rate was 93 percent. The national pass rate was 79 percent.

For seven of the last eight years, Great Bay nursing students have consistently tested above the national average, with pass rates between 88 percent and 98 percent. Based in Portsmouth, the community college prepares nurses for high-demand careers in healthcare through a rigorous educational program, hands-on learning, and professional connections across the Seacoast and northern New England, said Dr. Dulcinea Kaufman, Director and Chair of the Department of Nursing at Great Bay.

Demand for slots in the nursing program at Great Bay is strong, mirroring regional and national trends. From 2015 to 2021, Great Bay averaged 91 qualified applicants per year. This year, 120 students applied. Nationally, enrollment in nursing programs is up nearly 6 percent, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Those numbers reflect the intense industry need for qualified nurses, Kaufman said. The pandemic has reinforced the importance and value of the nursing profession. RNs can expect to earn about $75,000 annually, according to national data, and nursing specialists earn considerably more income, including traveling nurses who work at different locations around the country depending on needs.

Great Bay nursing students have no trouble landing good jobs. “There has been a nursing shortage for several years and this has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. There are many jobs open in virtually every type of healthcare setting,” Kaufman said.

About 80 percent of Great Bay nursing graduates stay in New Hampshire and work mostly on the Seacoast in hospitals, medical offices, long-term care settings, with visiting-nurse agencies, and other settings.

Kaufman said Great Bay has earned its reputation for training exceptional nurses, and she attributed the success of the program to the supportive and symbiotic relationship between the faculty and students. Faculty cheer for student success, and students feel supported throughout their community college education and beyond, she said.

“We have one of the only nursing programs in New England with an integrated curriculum that has all nursing faculty team-teach every nursing course,” she said. “We know each of the students as individuals by the time they graduate, and they know us as well. We have high standards for our students, but we also see them as peers that we are mentoring in their journey to become nurses.”

Great Bay Community College is a comprehensive postsecondary institution offering quality academic and professional and technical education in support of workforce development and lifelong learning. Great Bay Community College is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire, a public system of higher education consisting of seven colleges in Berlin, Claremont, Laconia, Concord, Manchester, Nashuath. The colleges offer Associate degrees and career training in technical, professional and general fields, including transfer pathways to baccalaureate degrees. For more information on Great Bay Community College, visit