The ACEN and OADN Announce a Partnership

ATLANTA, Dec. 5, 2017– The board members of the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN) made the announcement today that the two organizations have entered into a partnership. The goal of this partnership is to increase the benefits and the efficacy of the support network for associate degree nursing (ADN) programs and their students. While both the ACEN and OADN will continue to operate completely independently and will not gain any ownership interests, rights, or financial stakes in the companion organization, the constituents of each organization will see many benefits immediately:

Members of OADN will have direct access to assistance, advice, continuing education, and current best practices related to accreditation. Through the partnership there will be an increase in opportunities to learn and engage in the accreditation process for all associate degree programs reaching the important achievement of initial and/or continuing accreditation.

Faculty members associated with the ACEN’s accredited programs and OADN’s members can increase their skill development, teambuilding, and leadership through separate and joint programming offered by the ACEN and OADN, and will be able to more readily connect and network with the community of ADN program faculty throughout the United States.

Both the ACEN and OADN will be able to improve their outreach efforts to support ADN programs, and will be able to enhance and supplement their current professional development offerings, benefitting both the ACEN’s accredited programs and OADN’s members. ...


Quality Education

Through Accreditation

Dr. Marsal P. Stoll; Dr. Belle S. Wheelan; Dr. Judith S. Eaton

The ACEN inaugural Nursing Education Accreditation Conference is just “around the corner.” The Quality Education through Accreditation conference is scheduled July 12-14, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia at the Omni Hotel – CNN Center. Speakers include the passionate ACEN Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Marsal P. Stoll; the dynamic Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; and the distinguished Dr. Judith S. Eaton, President of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. These renowned speakers will be joined by a cadre of your peers who will present on topics such as:

  • Strategies for Improvement of BSN Students’ NCLEX-RN Pass Rates and Lower Attrition,
  • Evaluating End-of-Program Student Learning Outcomes,
  • Creative Partnerships in Nursing Education,
  • Taking a Program Selfie: Evaluating Outcomes in a Concept-Based Curriculum,
  • Faculty Development to Promote the Use of Virtual Simulation,
  • The Pedagogical Use of Virtual Simulation for Competency Acquisition in Graduate Clinical Nurse Specialist Programs,
  • Power in Partnership and Innovation: Promoting a Competent Nursing Pipeline to the Community,
  • Lessons on Curriculum Revision,
  • Tips and Tools to Support Nursing Program Completion and First-time Licensure Success,
  • An Evidence Based Approach to Conducting Valid and Reliable Surveys Part I: Writing Effective Survey Questions for Data Collection,
  • Curricula Revisions: Lessons Learned,
  • Implementing a Veterans BSN Nursing Option,
  • ACEN Accreditation Mysteries and Reality: Let’s Demystify What Appears to be Mysterious, and
  • Development of Standards and Processes for Accreditation of Transition to Practice Programs.

This is just a snap shot of what you can expect. In addition to podium and poster presenters, Donna Meyer, President of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing, will present Transforming Nursing Education through Cross-Institutional Pathways. Due to popular demand, the ACEN Associate Directors will present Two Roads Converge: Merging End-of-Program Student Learning Outcomes with Outcomes Assessment. You do not want to miss these informative pre-sessions! 

There is More!

The ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference will offer over 36 continuing education credits and networking opportunities for each program type – Practical, Diploma, Associate, Baccalaureate, Master’s, Post-Master's Certificate, Clinical Doctorate, and DNP Specialist Certificate. The conference will feature the Human Library, which will provide attendees time to spend with seasoned ACEN Peer Evaluators and ACEN Associate Directors who will answer program specific questions. Another feature, the Knowledge Café, will provide attendees the opportunity to review exemplary Self-Study Reports, Focused Visit Reports, and Follow-Up Reports to glean a better understanding of the contents of a well-written report. Our Marketplace will showcase innovative resources for nursing programs.

Registration is open and seats are filling quickly. We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta for the conference July 12-14, 2018. Visit our website to register:


The 2017 Standards and Criteria for Accreditation:

The time has come and we are here to help!

As a reminder, the 2017 Standards and Criteria became effective January 1, 2017, and all programs being reviewed beginning January 1, 2018 will do so under the 2017 Standards and Criteria. To that end, the ACEN is committed to helping you as a supportive partner with the transition to the 2017 Standards and Criteria, and the ACEN staff would like to remind faculty that there are several resources to assist programs with this transition. These resources include the professional staff, online documents and guidelines, forums and workshops, as well as intensive support options.

Professional Staff

The ACEN professional staff are seasoned educators who are committed to helping programs navigate the accreditation process. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about the ACEN Standards and Criteria, policies, or procedures. We are here to help!

Online Resources - Recently Updated!

The ACEN website is a substantial online resource providing links to the ACEN Accreditation Manual, Standards and Criteria, guidelines, instructions, and templates. The ACEN would like to thank all of the individuals who have provided feedback to improve the clarity of our documents and guidelines. Faculty are encouraged to review the following updated resources which may be particularly helpful with the 2017 transition:

  • Guidelines for the Preparation of the Self-Study Report:This document is a must-use for preparing the Self-Study Report, providing not only details for formatting but also lists of essential elements which should be included in the report and/or the evidence room to support the narrative. There are also focused questions in these guidelines to help you with developing a clear and comprehensive report for your peers.

  • Sample Systematic Evaluation Plan Template: The systematic plan for program evaluation may seem overwhelming. Conversely, the 2017s have significantly reduced the information that must be included in the plan (hurray!). Though the ACEN does not mandate a particular format for the plan, this example template provides a great place to start for those new to accreditation or those transitioning their plan to the 2017s. ...

It is that time of year again when giving back to the communities surrounding us is weighing on our minds. As a nursing organization, the ACEN has giving back on its mind year-round.

Each year, the ACEN team participates in an out-of-office excursion to help promote teamwork as well as inner-office collaboration and growth. This year, we chose to give back to the greater Atlanta area by providing a Career Day to students in Dr. Jeannette Francis-Ferris’s Health Sciences Courses at South Cobb High School in Austell, Georgia. Professional staff, our executive team, and our administrative team shared experiences, including our educational backgrounds and what led us to the ACEN. Students engaged in conversation and questions with our team and showed a thirst for knowledge. Before leaving the high school, members of the ACEN "editing team" assisted students in writing résumés for entrance into their desired college programs.

As the year progressed, members of the ACEN family were affected by natural disasters, resulting in damage to nursing programs in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many of our programs were flooded and without power, some even without drinkable water or access to food. In an attempt to help our programs, as family does in a time of need, the ACEN enacted Policy #6 Delay/Advancement of Accreditation Visit, which allowed programs affected by the hurricanes to postpone upcoming site visits and allowed programs to submit reports outside of pre-established timeframes. Additionally, the ACEN has partnered with four non-profit organizations to encourage monetary donations to the communities hardest hit. Partnerships include the Neighborhood Health Clinic in Collier County, Florida, which was one of the worst hit areas in Florida after Hurricane Irma and home to many people below the poverty line; the Hispanic Foundation, which is the leader in the nation’s Latino non-profit organization with the objective to aid Puerto Rico in its long road to recovery; the Rebuild Texas Fund, which is a combined effort of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the OneStar Fund to provide areas of need and long-term recovery from Hurricane Harvey in Texas; and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, which supports the current and long-term needs of proceeds to their designated efforts. Recovery in these areas is ongoing, and these organizations are still accepting donations. ...


Shellye Vardaman

Joins the ACEN Board

Please join us in welcoming a new Commissioner! Dr. Shellye Vardaman joined the Board of Commissioners on December 2, 2017. Her term will run through September 30, 2018, due to a recent vacancy. Dr. Vardaman believes accreditation is a vital component of all nursing education programs. She has been an ACEN peer evaluator for six (6) years serving as a team member, team chair, and on the Evaluation Review Panel.

Dr. Vardaman is an Associate Professor of Nursing at Troy University. Being among the longest tenured members of the Troy University School of Nursing has allowed Dr. Vardaman to serve in multiple roles across virtually all of Troy University’s nursing programs. In addition to her primary role as a nurse educator and program coordinator, Dr. Vardaman continues her clinical practice as a PRN staff nurse at a local hospital ICU. She also holds certifications as a Certified Nurse Educator and Board Certified Medical-Surgical Nurse.

Dr. Vardaman holds membership in professional organizations, having most notably served as an officer of the local chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society for Nursing since 2001. She has also served STTI on the international level – elected to the International Governance Committee; co-chair of the International Charter Review Taskforce; member of the International Bylaws Taskforce; a regional Awards Committee; and her local chapter’s delegate to the international conference on multiple occasions. Currently, Dr. Vardaman serves as the chapter president for Troy University’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi and was the delegate for the 2016 convention.

ACEN Board of Commissioners

The ACEN is governed by a 15-member Board of Commissioners. The Commissioners are elected by the representatives of ACEN-accredited nursing programs. We are currently seeking nominations for five (5) Commissioners for the ACEN Board of Commissioners and one (1) member for the ACEN Nominating Committee. The ACEN values the perspectives of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences and seeks to include the broadest range of perspectives within the composition of the Board of Commissioners. ...

Registration for the 2018 ACEN Annual Conference: Quality Education Through Accreditation, is now open! The conference features podium and poster presenters, networking opportunities, and the potential to earn over 36 hours of continuing education credit. Click on the image below to register, or read more in the "Quality Education Through Accreditation" article!

The ACEN is thrilled to announce the promotion of Michaela Belgrave, the new Coordinator of Substantive Change. Michaela previously served as the Administrative Assistant for Accreditation Services, specializing in content editing and project management for almost three years. As a child of a U.S. veteran, Michaela has lived all over the country, but she considers Victorville, CA, to be her hometown. In 2012, she graduated from Georgia State University where she majored in English with a concentration in Composition and Rhetoric. She is currently progressing in the Technical Communication master’s program at Northeastern University.

As the Coordinator of Substantive Change, Michaela works with the ACEN professional staff to review, evaluate, and process substantive change requests; conducts training on Policy #14 Reporting Substantive Changes, including monthly orientation conference calls and participation in Program Administrator Workshops; and provides support to programs contemplating substantive changes. She plans to use her technical communication skills and experience in accreditation services to develop new resources and processes to assist programs with reporting substantive changes.

In her free time, Michaela enjoys reading, drawing, DIY projects, and woodworking. Michaela lives south of Atlanta with her husband and four dogs. 

March 15 - 16, Providence

What: ACEN Spring 2018 Self-Study Forum

Where: The Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island

April 4, San Antonio

What: Effectively Leading an ACEN-Accredited Program: A Workshop for Program Administrators

Where: Hyatt Regency San Antonio San Antonio, Texas

April 5 - 6, San Antonio

What: ACEN Spring 2018 Self-Study Forum

Where: The Hyatt Regency in San Antonio, Texas

July 12 - 14, Atlanta

What: 2018 ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference: Quality Education Through Accreditation

Where: The Omni Atlanta Hotel – CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia

FSCC, KU partner on nursing degree program (Nov. 28, 2017 - The Fort Scott Tribune)

CCM Nursing Graduates Consistently Exceed National Pass Rates on Board Exams (Nov. 28, 2017 - Parsippany Focus)

NJC nursing program celebrates 55 years (Nov. 16, 2017 - Journal-Advocate)

Kauaʻi CC nursing program earns highest accreditation (Oct. 19, 2017 - University of Hawai'i News)


We are delighted that the brand new Accreditation Management System, myACEN, is on target for a release in the spring of 2018! This powerful yet incredibly accessible online tool will reduce the time it takes you to perform data entry at all stages of the accreditation processes, and will ensure prompt and continuous communication between ACEN staff and all of our worldwide constituents. From an auto-populating calendar of important events to automated notifications of new account activity, myACEN is the platform that will greatly simplify the entire accreditation process for you.

Stay tuned for more news and exciting tutorials as the release date inches closer!

Q: Why Eight-Year Accreditation Cycles?

A:About 12 years ago the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) told all accrediting agencies that a ten (10) year interval between accreditation cycles was too long of an interval. Currently, eight (8) years is the longest acceptable interval between accreditation cycles. Yes, some accrediting agencies have a ten (10) year interval between accreditation cycles however, to satisfy the USDE mandate all institutions/programs must demonstrate compliance through an interim report midway between cycles – at the fifth year. This report carries all the weight that any review by the accrediting agency’s governing board bears.

For example, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has a ten (10) year cycle and Fifth Year Interim Report. The same is true with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which requires all its accredited programs to produce a continuous improvement progress report at the fifth year. So at face value it appears as if some accrediting agencies have a ten (10) year cycle and while true, what many don’t realize is all institutions/programs must write an interim report too. So in reality, institutions/programs are doing an accreditation process/report every five (5) years.

At ACEN eight (8) years really means eight (8) years; ACEN accredited programs are not doing an accreditation process midway through the accreditation cycle.


DNP Specialist Certificates and Post-Master’s Certificates

Issue 3 Encore

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) has held recognition with the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) for 60 years. The USDE has recognized the ACEN as an accrediting agency for nursing education, nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including Clinical

Doctorate, Post-Master's Certificate, Master’s, DNP Specialist Certificate, Baccalaureate, Associate, Diploma, and Practical Nursing program in the United States and its territories. In 2008, the USDE recognition also included the doctoral level. With its original recognition by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the ACEN has been recognized as an accrediting agency of nursing education programs that offer either a certificate, diploma, or recognized professional degree (Clinical Doctorate, Post-Master's Certificate, Master’s, DNP Specialist Certificate, Baccalaureate, Associate, Diploma, and Practical Nursing) in the United States, its territories, and internationally. Since 2011, the CHEA recognition of the ACEN has also included the clinical doctorate level.

The ACEN accredits clinical doctorate programs, as well as DNP Specialist Certificates, with all specialty areas such as nurse educator, nurse leader, as well as advanced practice roles. All DNP programs are required to have practice focus; DNP programs must have a minimum of 500 practicum hours at the doctoral level.

The ACEN has been accrediting Post-Master’s Certificates (PMC) for decades. Reviewing a PMC as a component of the options offered by an institution includes the PMC in the program’s accreditation which is critical for graduates of master’s programs with advanced practice roles (nurse practitioner, nurse anesthesia, nurse midwifery, and clinical nurse specialist). National certification agencies require that individuals applying to take national certification examinations be graduates from an accredited nursing program, including PMCs. ...


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