Accreditation is the A in LACE. But what does it mean? In my estimation Education is where it all begins but in order for education to occur in a supported and validated manner there needs to be appropriate accreditation of the educational program.
In nursing there are two accrediting agencies for nursing education programs: the Collegiate Center for Nursing Education (CCNE) and the National League for Nursing Accreditation Council (NLN-AC). Both accrediting agencies have specifically developed criteria to evaluate the process of education and the outcomes achieved.
Ultimately, the purpose of pre-accreditation approval is to ensure that the programs that will be providing advanced practice education are in alignment with the intent of the APRN Consensus Model and are only seeking accreditation for education that meets the model. The reason it was included in the model as a concept was that there were many educational programs that were becoming ever more specialized in how they presented the content of the educational program. This created licensing issues...how should the individual be licensed? One example used frequently in the discussions was a nurse practitioner program that was educating NPs to be specific to the care of feet. Should they be licensed as a Foot NP? The struggles faced by various state boards of nursing were hoped to be addressed through a pre-accreditation process. If a program met the model it could be accredited and move through the process. If it did not, it would be re-directed to meet the model.
The two accreditors are in varying stages of implementing a pre-accreditation program as outlined in the APRN Consensus Model. The NLN-AC has has a pre-accreditation program for a number of years for all levels of education. Programs indicate their intent to seek NLN-AC accreditation and become listed as a "candidate" on the NLN-AC web page. They then move through the process of meeting all requirements and becoming accredited through a self-assessment and site visit process. This process will be expanded to include concepts from the APRN Consensus Model for the APRN programs.
CCNE is in the process of moving through and approving a pre-accreditation approval process. The full implementation is pending board approval at this time.
Will this resolve the issues currently occuring? Time will tell...it will be interesting to watch. The intent is that existing programs do not need to move through a pre-accreditation process....but will they need to conform when they apply for re-acreditation? Again, time will tell.