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A study published by researchers at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health found that graduates from for-profit nursing programs were more likely to fail the National Council Licensure Examination on the first try compared to their peers from public and nonprofit institutions.

"Students who fail can try again but they cannot get an entry-level nursing job until they pass the test," Patricia Pittman, the lead study author and a professor of health policy and management at Milken, said in a news release.

The researchers gathered data on first-time nursing exam pass rates and sorted them by degree and ownership status from 2011 through 2015. They found that, on average, public programs had an 88 percent first-time pass rate, nonprofits had 84 percent and for-profits had 68 percent.

“Many states and accreditation agencies consider an NCLEX pass rate of at least 80 percent as a minimum quality threshold for nursing programs,” Pittman said. “Our study found that for-profit nursing programs were nearly twice as likely to have failed to meet that 80 percent threshold as compared to public programs.”