June 2017

Volume XI - Issue 02

       the leading authority for nursing education accreditation



Congratulations to the Newly Elected Members
to the ACEN Board of Commissioners


Please join us in welcoming our new Commissioners! The newly elected members to the ACEN Board of Commissioners are comprised of two nurse educators, one nursing service representative, and one public representative. Re-elected for a second consecutive term is Catherine McJannet.

Pictured from left to right - Nursing Education Representatives: Linda Miles, Catherine McJannet, Gwendolyn Taylor; Nursing Representative: Lenetra Jefferson; Public Representative: Steve Eckman
They will all join the other Commissioners for a three-year term effective October 1, 2017. Also elected to the ACEN Nominating Committee is Dr. Georgia Vest. For more information about the ACEN Board of Commissioners, go to the "About" section in our website at www.acenursing.org.
Outcomes of ACEN-Accredited Programs
Continue to Exceed Non-Accredited Programs
A distinct advantage of having an ACEN-accredited nursing program is that the program outcomes exceed those of non-ACEN-accredited nursing programs, including the licensure examination pass rates. Typically, the pass rates of the first time test takers from ACEN-accredited nursing programs exceed the national mean for all program types. With the results now available for 2016, the ACEN is proud to announce that programs have met and/or exceeded the national means for the fourth year in a row; this is also noteworthy since the passing standard for by the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN has increased two (2) or three (3) times between April 1, 2010, and April 1, 2016.
The faculty and students of all of the ACEN-accredited programs should be commended for all of their hard work and success in achieving this accomplishment. Additional data for ACEN-accredited nursing program will be coming soon in the 2016 Report to Constituents.

Effective January 2018
All Programs Will Be Required
to Use the 2017 Standards and Criteria


The 2017 Standards and Criteria became effective January 1, 2017. All programs being reviewed from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 have the choice of being reviewed under the 2013 Standards and Criteria OR the 2017 Standards and Criteria. Programs must decide to either write to all the 2013 Standards and Criteria or all the 2017 Standards and Criteria in their Self-Study Reports, Follow-Up Reports, or Focused Visit Reports. The "mixing and matching" between the 2013 or the 2017 Standards and Criteria is not permissible.
All programs being reviewed beginning January 1, 2018 will do so under the 2017 Standards and Criteria. If you have any questions, the ACEN professional staff is available to assist you. Contact information for ACEN staff is available at


The upcoming ACEN Self-Study Forum in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 12-13, 2017 will be featuring the 2017 Standards and Criteria. For more information or to register for the forum, go to www.acenursing.org/self-study-forums.



Become an ACEN Peer Evaluator...

A Most Rewarding Experience!


Being an ACEN Peer Evaluator is a rewarding opportunity and a way to be part of a quality improvement process through accreditation.


Accreditation is one way that institutions and academic programs embrace quality assurance and improvement to become stronger and better institutions and programs.


ACEN accreditation sets standards of educational quality specific to nursing education and peer evaluators assess the extent to which the program meets these expected standards. Peer evaluators make recommendations to the ACEN Board of Commissioners and are knowledgeable about common, contemporary, and best practices within the various program types, appropriate curricula, and conventions and current trends in healthcare, nursing education, and/or nursing practice.

Find out more about becoming an ACEN Peer Evaluator at www.acenursing.org/becoming-an-acen-peer-evaluator/.

Nominate someone to be an ACEN Peer Evaluator at www.acenursing.org/program-evaluator-nomination/.

2018 ACEN
Nursing Education Accreditation Conference


Quality Education
Through Accreditation


The Steering Committee of the ACEN Accreditation Conference is proud to announce our Inaugural Conference, which is scheduled July 12-14, 2018 at the Omni Hotel Atlanta – CNN Center.  The conference theme is Quality Education through Accreditation.  The purpose of this conference is to provide a scholarly forum in which faculty, nurse administrators, college administrators, students, accreditation liaisons, laboratory personnel, data analysts, and staff of nursing programs share best practices in nursing education as related to accreditation. The accreditation conference is your opportunity to engage in scholarship and learn new educational practices related to nursing education accreditation. 


Sponsorship and Exhibitor opportunities will also be available. The conference will provide potential sponsors and exhibitors the opportunity to connect directly with conference participants while promoting their organization, services, or products. Sponsorship and exhibit spaces are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, contact annualconference@acenursing.org.


Call For Abstracts

for 2018 ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference


We invite you to submit your abstracts for the Inaugural Nursing Education Accreditation Conference. Topics for one-hour sessions and poster presentations include, but are not limited to, the nursing education accreditation relationship with creative partnerships for nursing programs; innovative online or hybrid delivery of nursing courses or nursing programs; resourceful utilization of preceptors; inventive faculty mentoring programs; faculty evaluation processes; evidence-based initiatives; student orientation programs; grievance and/or complaint procedures; curriculum maps for established professional nursing standards, guidelines, competencies, diversity, and standards of practice; academic progression pathways, assessment of student learning outcomes; assessment of program outcomes; and data collection and analysis of job placement rates.


Abstracts are to be submitted online through www.acenursing.org starting July 8, 2017. The deadline for abstract submission is September 30, 2017. Applicants will be notified via email by November 24, 2017 of acceptance decisions.


Accreditation Review: The Four-Step Process


The ACEN office receives many questions regarding the peer review process of accreditation. This article provides a brief overview meant to clarify the review process that occurs during each accreditation cycle.


The ACEN accredits all program types, including clinical doctorate/DNP specialist certificate, masters/post-master's certificate, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical nursing programs. Though there are some differences in selected Criteria based on program type, the process for accreditation is the same. There are two (2) accreditation cycles each year, one (1) in the spring and one (1) in the fall. The accreditation process in each cycle includes four (4) steps: 1) the Self-Study Report; 2) the site visit; 3) the Evaluation Review Panel (ERP); and 4) the Board of Commissioners (BOC). Each step of this process will be briefly discussed.



The first step of the process is the Self-Study Report (SSR). The SSR is a report written by the faculty that includes the faculty's findings during a review of the extent to which the program/programs meet the ACEN Accreditation Standards and Criteria. This self-review process is in-depth and can take time to complete. Many programs start the process 18 months to two (2) years in advance of the scheduled site visit. The faculty submit the SSR to the ACEN and each member of the site visit team six (6) weeks prior to the scheduled accreditation site visit.


The second step is the site visit. A team of peer evaluators conduct the site visit over a period of three (3) days during the Spring or the Fall Cycle. The site visit team is composed of at least three (3) trained peer evaluators with program specific expertise. The purpose of a site visit is to provide an opportunity for the peer evaluators to verify what the faculty have written in the SSR, clarify any questions about the report while onsite, and then amplify the answers within a Site Visit Report written by the team members. Based on the findings during the site visit, the peer evaluators make a recommendation in the report regarding accreditation for the program/programs.


The third step in the process is the Evaluation Review Panel (ERP). ERP is composed of multiple panels of highly experienced peer evaluators representing all program types. ERP meetings occur in January after the Fall Cycle visits and in June after the Spring Cycle visits. Prior to the meeting, each program reviewed during the cycle is assigned to 2–3 peer evaluators who represent the same program type. The peer evaluators conduct an independent review, which includes each program's SSR and the team's Site Visit Report, and then prepare a report based on their findings with a recommendation regarding the accreditation status. The peer evaluators present their reports and recommendations at the ERP meeting. The panel discusses any discrepancies in the findings and/or recommendations by the independent peer reviewers until the panel reaches consensus on a final recommendation. The intention behind this step in the process is to ensure consistent application of the Standards and Criteria of the program type under review. The nurse administrator and one (1) additional program representative may attend the ERP meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, or the program may elect to listen to the ERP meeting deliberations via conference call.


The fourth and final step of the accreditation process is review by the ACEN Board of Commissioners (BOC). The BOC is comprised of 15 members, including nurse educators, clinicians/practitioners, and public members. The group meets in March for the Fall Cycle reviews and in July for the Spring Cycle reviews. Prior to the meeting, each program reviewed during the cycle is assigned to two (2) board members. The assigned board members conduct an independent review of each program's SSR, the Site Visit Report, and the recommendations of the site visit team and the ERP. They then prepare a report with a recommendation regarding the accreditation status. The board members present these reports, including the recommendations, at the BOC meeting. Again, the board discusses any discrepancies in findings and/or recommendations until the board reaches consensus on the final accreditation decision. The intention behind this step in the process is to ensure consistent application of the final accreditation decisions across all programs and all program types. The ACEN Office of the CEO notifies programs of the board's final decisions by letter within 30 days of the board meeting.


For more information regarding the accreditation cycles and review process, please visit the ACEN website at www.acenursing.org/acen-resources to review the General Information section of the ACEN Accreditation Manual, email us at info@acenursing.org, or call the office at (404) 975-5000.



The Experience of Serving as a Visiting Scholar at the ACEN (Spring 2017)
by Dr. Paula Dunn Tropello


During this spring sabbatical, the immersion into the ACEN has indeed been far beyond what I have experienced as a nurse administrator in preparing and writing for accreditation of programs, serving on site visit teams, or attending Self-Study Forums. The importance of being able to see and work behind the scenes with systems and regulations/policies and to learn the necessary interactions of the ACEN with other accreditors, regulatory agencies (e.g., U.S. Department of Education), and to attain Department recognition of an accrediting agency, was paramount. Those in academia likely do not realize the steps involved in the processes that give the ACEN recognition are similar to their own journey towards accreditation, but even more high-stakes because the USDE recognition lasts five (5) years and keeping up with requirements is an ongoing effort. The sheer amount of nursing programs requiring ACEN visits and accompanying reports with multiple edits to arrive at the final compliance decision is now something I can appreciate in scope; though, how it is done with so few ACEN staff members is, simply put, an organizational feat! True dedication and expertise I suspect are the basic ingredients; plus, the organization's approach and teamwork, with regularly planned meetings and electronic group calendars get the job done.


Somehow the highly valued peer review aspect of accreditation, which has been in existence for over a century, continues despite the federal and public pressures for more regulations. Increased skepticism of higher education with proliferative changes such as non-traditional institutions and innovational learning/teaching approaches, requires more quality assurance to the public served through accreditation. While an accreditation review often yields good suggestions from peers for a college to improve the educational quality of its program, some have come to feel that accreditation is burdensome (e.g., increasing paperwork, requests for more information, or more frequent reviews) too costly, and forces some institutions to make choices about the use of resources. From my perspective, the pressures are felt from the top down; from institutions to programs to faculty and students who want to do well in the accreditation process. (Those in the practice domain of health care also might relate to the high-stakes JACHO and Magnet status preparation and recognition with employees and patients reaping the benefits, which also translates into nursing students and faculty selecting good clinical learning experiences). However, I might even add that the pressures are also placed on the accrediting agencies themselves as a result of more regulations, which was made clear working at the ACEN and seeing many agencies themselves endeavoring to maintain or achieve recognition with federal or national entities. The addition of regulations on accrediting agencies and programs seeking accreditation poses two (2) important questions: What purpose do these regulations serve; and, Are there better ways to regulate programs, institutions, and accrediting bodies?

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ACEN to Present at Upcoming
2017 OADN Convention


Multiple abstracts submitted by ACEN professional staff (Dr. Nell Ard, Dr. Sharon Beasley, Dr. Keri Nunn-Ellison, and Dr. Marcy Stoll) were selected to be presented at the Organization for Associate Degree (OADN) 2017 Convention, November 16-19, 2017 in Scottsdale, AZ. With the theme Advancing Quality and Safety in Healthcare for this year's convention, the members of the ACEN professional staff are proud to present the following workshop, sessions and poster presentations.


Dr. Nell Ard and Dr. Marcy Stoll:

  • Pre-Session Workshop
    Building Your Bridge to Successful Nursing Accreditation

Dr. Nell Ard

  • Poster Presentation
    A Successful Journey to Initial Accreditation for a Nursing Program

Dr. Sharon Beasley

  • Concurrent Session
    A Guide to Creating Specific and Measurable Expected Levels of Achievement
  • Poster Presentation
    Outcomes Assessment:  101

Dr. Keri Nunn-Ellison

  • Concurrent Session
    Initiating Quality Practices for the Nurse Administrator





Great things are happening at the ACEN!  Our Accreditation Management System (AMS) currently in development and soon to be launched in the latter half of 2017 will be known as "myACEN". The ACEN staff is continuing to work with Indigo Interactive, the software development company working to transition the ACEN accreditation processes to a digital medium and provide fully online 24/7 access through a web portal. The first system modules have been finalized and are now on a steady production schedule. During the summer, more completed modules from the development team will be received that will require final approval. This is a very innovating and exciting tool and we are anticipating every step moving forward. The AMS named myACEN will be a single, unified platform which allows accreditation process collaboration. We will continue to provide updates on the status of this much anticipated system.


Dr. Suzette Farmer
Joins the ACEN


It is exciting to welcome Dr. Suzette Farmer, Associate Director, as the newest member of the ACEN professional staff. Dr. Farmer holds a PhD in nursing from the University of Utah and has over 25 years of experience in nursing education. Dr. Farmer has taught in associate, baccalaureate, and master's programs at various colleges and universities including: Weber State University; Utah Valley University; Massachusetts College of Health Professions; and Roseman University of Health Sciences. 


Prior to coming to the ACEN, Dr. Farmer worked in licensing and regulation of healthcare professions. Her primary duties included working with the Utah State Board of Nursing and management of nursing licensure and disciplinary actions in Utah. She also worked with other health professionals and boards including physical therapy, occupational therapy, certified and direct-entry midwives, athletic trainers, and vocational rehabilitation counselors.

Other professional activities have included serving as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Nursing Education and working with the Utah Action Coalition for Health.


Dr. Farmer believes in the power and process of accreditation to improve and sustain high quality nursing education. She is excited to be a member of the professional staff at the ACEN and to focus her professional attention on ensuring quality nursing education through the accreditation of nursing education programs. 



ACEN Staff Spotlight


Jessica Dermody
Executive Assistant to CEO


Jessica Dermody started with the ACEN in February 2012 as a member of the Operations team. Within her role as Operations Assistant, she was the face and voice of the ACEN office; anyone who called or visited the ACEN received their warm welcome and earnest assistance from Jessica. In May 2017, she was promoted to the position of Executive Assistant to the CEO. In this new and challenging role, Jessica acts as the primary point of contact for all matters related to the Office of the CEO. In addition to her responsibilities assisting Dr. Marcy Stoll and the ACEN Board of Commissioners, Jessica continues to support and assist the public and the ACEN staff. We congratulate Jessica on her new role within the ACEN team!