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Natural Disasters Allow for Site Visit Delays

The ACEN Board of Commissioners, Chief Executive Officer, and staff extend our heartfelt concerns for all communities affected by the recent natural disasters. We recognize that some of our programs’ administrators, faculty, staff, and students were displaced due to storm damage. As a result, some colleges/institutions were forced to postpone classes and other administrative services, thus interrupting instruction. Further complicating matters, some of our programs affected by these disasters have site visits scheduled in the next few weeks. The ACEN’s Policy # 6 Delay/Advancement of Accreditation Visit allows for a delay in a site visit when circumstances beyond the control of the nursing program occur; typically, these involve a major disruption such as natural disasters that interrupt the education of currently enrolled students. The ACEN also understands that potential decreases in administrative capacity caused by these disasters may impact the program’s ability to submit reports within pre-established timeframes. Programs that were affected by these disasters that require accommodations, i.e. revised site visit dates, should contact the ACEN staff as soon as possible.

Our first concern is for the safety and wellbeing of administrators, faculty, staff, students, and members of these communities. Please know that the ACEN will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

A Call to Action:

Filling the Gap of Nurse Clinicians in

Nurse Education Accreditation

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Have you ever wondered how you can continue to make an impact in nursing education outside of the classroom? As the leading authority in nursing education, the ACEN strives to be not just a leader in nursing education accreditation but also a dedicated and supportive partner in nursing education, collaborating with nursing faculty and administrators, volunteers, and colleagues to continuously strengthen nursing education at the national and international levels. In order to do this, we are continuously seeking qualified clinicians to serve in several volunteer roles required to maintain these services; inclusive of representation of their peers throughout the accreditation process.

The ACEN is currently seeking Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners to join our amazing group of peer evaluators. With the growing number of Family Nurse, Mental Health, Acute Care, and Adult Gerontology Practitioner programs arising in institutions both nationally and internationally, your expertise as an active practitioner can be used to interject a wealth of valuable, contemporary practice knowledge throughout the accreditation process. Whether serving as a peer evaluator in the capacity of a site visitor, Evaluation Review Panel member, Appeals Committee member, or member of the ACEN Board or Commissioners, returning to nursing education to partner with the program types that contributed to your success can be extremely rewarding.

Traveling to one of our accredited programs as a site visitor provides you the opportunity to share in a collegial experience across the country and potentially around the world. In addition, the ACEN staff will assist you by providing training, offering support related to site visit preparation and program review as well as facilitating with all of your traveling needs.

In order to join our highly regarded peer evaluators as a clinician, you must meet the following criteria:

Nurse Clinician

  • Work in a full-time or part-time time position in a clinical practice environment
  • Knowledge of current nursing practice, contemporary issues in healthcare settings, transition of new graduates into nursing practice
  • Expertise in communication, group dynamics, information literacy, use of technology, best practices for patient health and safety
  • Contributions in scholarship/research, practice, community service, professional service

We encourage you to self-nominate or nominate nurse educators and nurse clinicians/practitioners to serve as a peer evaluator. If you meet these qualifications, the ACEN wants to hear from you. Please email Dr. Sharon Beasley at sbeasley@acenursing.org.

Call for Nominations

ACEN Board of Commissioners and

ACEN Nominating Committee

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is 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.

ACEN Board of Commissioners

  1. Two (2) nurse educators representing baccalaureate and higher nursing programs; preferably at least one (1) nurse educator baccalaureate/master’s/clinical doctorate nursing programs or master’s clinical doctorate nursing programs
  2. One (1) nurse educator representing associate nursing programs or one (1) nurse educator representing practical nursing programs; preferably associate and practical nursing programs
  3. One (1) nursing clinician/practitioner representing nursing service
  4. One (1) member of the public

The Board of Commissioners is the governing board for the ACEN.

See ACEN Policy #2 Representation on Site Visit Teams, Evaluation Review Panels and the Board of Commissioners for eligibility information to serve as a nurse educator, nursing clinician/practitioner, or member of the public.

See ACEN Policy #1 for Conflicts of Interest.

See ACEN Bylaws for role and responsibilities of Commissioners.

ACEN Nominating Committee

  1. One (1) nurse educator, nursing clinician/practitioner, or member of the public

The Nominating Committee prepares the slate of candidates for the ACEN Board of Commissioners from the nominations made. See ACEN Policy #1 for Conflicts of Interest.

We encourage you to nominate a colleague or yourself for one of these important positions. Nominations are open from October 1, 2017 and are due to the ACEN office by December 15, 2017.We hope you will consider serving in one of these essential roles in support of nursing education programs.

More information about the Board and Committee vacancies, the nomination process, and the application materials that are required is available on the ACEN website at www.acenursing.org.

DNP Specialist Certificates and Post Master’s Certificates

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 master’s, 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 (master’s, 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 clinical 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.

In response to inquiries from accredited clinical doctorate programs, the ACEN has also verified with both the USDE in June 2017 and CHEA in May 2017, that the ACEN scope of recognition includes a DNP Specialist Certificate. A DNP Specialist Certificate can be an option offered by ACEN-accredited clinical doctorate program that will enable students to obtain an additional specialty area as long as the option requirements maintain a clinical focus. With a national impetus moving towards the DNP being the entry level, especially for advanced practice roles, programs that offer a BSN-to-DNP program need a mechanism to enable students to obtain a second specialty foci – hence the DNP Specialist Certificate. ...

Transition-to-Practice Program Accreditation

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Many healthcare agencies have implemented transition-to-practice (TTP) programs for recently graduated and/or recently hired nurses. TTP programs are designed to build a bridge between a nurse’s formal education and experience and to facilitate their transition to the role of a professional nurse. The literature suggests that the benefits of TTP programs include increased quality of patient care and safety, and increased retention of a nurse as an employee.

The ACEN was approached a few years ago by representatives from the U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs about the possibility of accrediting TTP programs for nurses. In response to the request for TTP accreditation, a committee of nurse educators and nurse clinicians was convened. The ACEN is continuing its efforts to develop a platform for accreditation of TTP programs affiliated with sponsoring/governing organizations such as health care agencies (e.g., hospital, long-term care, or rehabilitation facility), colleges, or universities. Graduates from any practical, diploma, associate, baccalaureate, master’s, or clinical doctorate degree program would be eligible to participate in an ACEN-accredited TTP program.

The committee developed the proposed TTP Standards and Criteria based on best practices in accreditation. The proposed Standards and Criteria were designed to ensure that TTP programs would be able to develop a TTP program that meet the needs of their agency, community, and employees. The first draft of the proposed TTP Standards and Criteria was sent to stakeholders for initial review and comment on August 1, 2017 through September 15, 2017. If you participated in the initial review process, thank you for your comments! The committee are reviewing and using the comments to continue the development of the TTP Standards and Criteria.

The ACEN will call for public comments again on the TTP Accreditation Standards and Criteria later this fall and we invite all stakeholders to participate in the process. Public comments are an essential step in the process and it helps ensure that stakeholders have a voice in the final TTP Standards and Criteria, and related policies and processes. Once public comments have been considered and incorporated as appropriate, a final proposal for the TTP Standards and Criteria, and related policies and processes will be submitted to the ACEN Board of Commissioners for approval. It is anticipated that the final TTP accreditation proposal will be reviewed by the Board of Commissioners during its July 2018 meeting. 

As the leading authority for nursing education accreditation, the ACEN believes that the accreditation of TTP programs provides another opportunity for the ACEN to fulfill its mission to support the interests of nursing education, nursing practice, and the public. Watch for more information and opportunities to participate in the future. If you have questions about TTP accreditation, please contact Suzette Farmer at sfarmer@acenursing.org or call the ACEN office at 1-404-975-5000

A success rate, quite literally, does not get better than 100%. Which is why the ACEN is thrilled to share the results of its past two Board of Commissioners meetings. At the July 2017 Board of Commissioners meeting, 73 programs were reviewed for continuing accreditation and 25 programs were reviewed for initial accreditation. In total, 98 programs were reviewed, all of which were granted accreditation.

Dating back further, 62 continuing programs and 14 initial programs were reviewed at the March 2017 Board of Commissioners meeting; again, all 76 programs were granted initial or continuing accreditation. That’s 100% of programs granted accreditation in both the Spring 2017 Cycle (those reviewed in July 2017) and the Fall 2016 Cycle (those reviewed in March 2017).

This is a fantastic success rate, and the ACEN staff are justifiably excited for and proud of these programs. Anyone who has been involved in the accreditation process, either as a member of a program under review or as a peer evaluator, knows how much hard work goes into the preparation and completion of a thorough accreditation review. It may seem surprising that so many programs were successful. After all, accreditation is no guarantee; the Standards and Criteria demand consistent quality, and peer evaluation provides for extensive, experienced, and unbiased review.

So what gives? ...

Have you conducted research recently that could advance nursing education and nursing program accreditation? Have you developed new processes or procedures for educational programs that intersect with nursing program accreditation? Have you created a new nursing course or developed an effective plan for outcomes assessment? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then ACEN’s 2018 Nursing Education Accreditation Conference is the perfect opportunity for you and/or your colleagues to present new research findings, policies, procedures, projects, and other topics related to nursing education and nursing program accreditation. 

Join a community of scholars who will reveal their innovative strategies germane to contemporary nursing education and nursing program accreditation. Breakout sessions and poster topics include, but are not limited to, nursing program accreditation and evidence-based initiatives; inventive online or hybrid delivery of nursing courses and/or nursing programs; resourceful utilization of preceptors; clinical education; curriculum maps for established professional nursing standards, guidelines, competencies, diversity, and standards of practice; academic progression pathways, assessment of student learning outcomes; systematic evaluation plans, assessment of program outcomes; and data collection and analysis of job placement rates. The ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference will be held July 12-14, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia at the Omni Hotel – CNN Center. The deadline for submitting an abstract is October 31, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Advisory Review is a one-time opportunity for an ACEN-accredited program to receive feedback from an ACEN professional staff member regarding draft accreditation documents.

November 10, Atlanta

What: Effectively Leading an ACEN-Accredited Nursing Program: A Workshop for the Program Administrator

Where: The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Atlanta – Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia

March 15 - 16, Providence

What: ACEN Spring 2018 Self-Study Forum

Where: The Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island

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

The ACEN office has recently been graced with the presence of a fresh-faced new Operations Assistant! Hailing from Marietta, GA, Coleman is a 2012 graduate of Georgia State University where he double-majored in History and Political Science. Arguably the best qualities that Coleman brings to the office are his efficiency, accuracy, and attention to detail. For the past six weeks he has been putting those skills to great use scanning and filing forms, answering the telephone, and researching the accreditation status of institutions at the behest of requestors.

Exciting tasks on the horizon? Coleman is hard at work taking ALL of the ACEN paper documents online to help the office clear out filing cabinets, and to set us up for a greener road down the line. He will also be working with the new Marketing Communications Specialist on brand and social media management.

Outside of work Coleman loves to explore new culinary experiences, hiking, and he is politically active in his community. Of his new appointment at ACEN he says “[I am] jubilant to be working in nursing education accreditation!"

Welcome aboard, Coleman!

2016-2017 ACEN Annual Report

The ACEN is gearing up for another Annual Report season! The Annual Report is one of the many ways that the ACEN maintains its ongoing systematic review to ensure that the Standards and Criteria are valid and reliable indicators of the education quality provided by accredited programs and are relevant to the educational needs of students. In addition, the report aids the ACEN in establishing that its processes are reliable and that they assess the knowledge and consistency of observations, applications, decisions, and perceptions.

The 20162017 ACEN Annual Report will be released to all programs on October 15, 2017. We recognize that gathering the appropriate data and completion of the Annual Report can be a little stressful. Our goal is to partner with you throughout the report process while making sure that you have access to the information that you need to successfully submit your program information correctly the first time.

To that end, we will be hosting a weekly support call throughout the Annual Report review period. In addition to the detailed instruction guide, the ACEN staff will host support calls geared toward providing assistance to nurse administrators or other institutional designees in an effort to answer questions specific to their program type(s). Prior to starting the Annual Report, it is recommended that each program read through the instructions carefully and reference the updated glossary located on the ACEN website under Resources for Nursing Programs.

All data collected through the ACEN Annual Report are shared as aggregate data through the Report to Constituents. We hope that as an ACEN-accredited programs you find this information to be helpful as you continue the work of developing and enhancing quality nursing education programs. For more questions regarding the annual report, please contact Ebony King at eking@acenursing.org.

MyACEN Update

Since the last update, most of the modules of the online accreditation management software, "MyACEN," have entered production. It is really exciting to see how all of the modules connect and how the data is transferred between them. This integrated nature of MyAcen reduces the time it takes for users to perform data entry at all stages of the accreditation processes. One feature of MyACEN is automated email notifications, which are sent when specific actions are performed in MyACEN. This feature triggers immediate automated updates to be sent to all individuals involved in the accreditation process. In this way, the automated notifications will be sent to ACEN peer evaluators, ACEN staff, and the nursing programs, ensuring prompt and continuous communication.

Q: What are degree mills and accreditation mills?

A: Recently, several issues have been cited regarding “degree mills”, which refers to unaccredited institutions who offer degrees of questionable merit. Additionally, concerns have also been raised regarding institutions who claim to hold accreditation from dubious accreditors which are referred to as “accreditation mills.”

For current information on such practices, visit: http://chea.org/.

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

3343 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 850 | Atlanta, GA 30326 | (404) 975-5000 | www.acenursing.org

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