When onsite program evaluation teams arrived on the campuses of two schools of nursing in September and October 2016 to conduct team visits for program accreditation, the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA) reached a milestone in its development as an accrediting body. Since its inception in September 2014, the NLN CNEA Board of Commissioners and numerous committee members have made tremendous strides in implementing accreditation services as follows:
- Developed a governance structure that ensures full autonomy in all matters related to accreditation.
- Established Standards of Accreditation as well as policies and procedures.
- Appointed and trained more than 100 onsite program evaluators representing nursing education and practice.
- Reviewed programs from 20 states seeking preaccreditation status, including practical/vocational nursing, diploma (RN), associate, bachelor, master’s, and clinical doctorate programs.
VALUES-BASED ACCREDITATION SERVICES
The NLN CNEA was established by the action of NLN members seeking options in nursing program accreditation that would carry on the League’s tradition of advocacy for nursing education excellence. Its accreditation services are based on the NLN core values: caring, diversity, integrity, and excellence.
- A culture of caring is demonstrated through an accreditation process that advocates for quality assurance in nursing education and is implemented in a collegial, collaborative context.
- A culture of diversity is evidenced by standards that respect the diversity existing in the nursing program’s mission, curricula, faculty, and students.
- A culture of integrity exists with a commitment to personal, professional, and organizational integrity throughout an accreditation process that ensures transparency and ethical decision-making in all activities.
- A culture of excellence is promoted through clarity of purpose in the accreditation process and the fostering of continuous quality improvement in nursing programs.
These core values guide the behaviors demonstrated by all NLN CNEA representatives, including staff and volunteers, and are paramount in decision-making. As Dr. Joan Darden, chair of the NLN CNEA Board of Commissioners, states, they “are not just words on paper, they are lived values.” For Dr. Cole Edmonson, a board member representing nursing practice, “NLN CNEA accreditation is unique in that it is built on an appreciative model using the NLN core values…. It is a disruptor to the status quo in nursing accreditation.” Board member Dr. Stuart Savin states, “As a public member concerned for the quality and caliber of care graduates from accredited nursing programs will impart, I find the four core values…the most valuable part of its foundation.” Fellow public board member Dr. Betty Horton adds, “I have been a director of accreditation and on the board of directors of three accrediting agencies. NLN CNEA is one of the most value-driven organizations that I have known.”
Other commissioners cite the NLN CNEA’s commitment in recognizing program diversity and innovation as evidence of its value-based accreditation services. Dr. Rose Santee states, “What I value most…is the importance that we place on diversity and inclusivity; the caring manifested among board members that will transfer to our members and our students.” Brother Ignatius Perkins summarizes how program participation in the NLN CNEA accreditation process can ultimately impact patient care: “The NLN CNEA has embarked on an innovative pathway that assures patients receive care that promotes human dignity, freedom, and human flourishing through an accreditation process that emphasizes the integration of human caring and professional competencies into nursing practice.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
The NLN CNEA is well positioned to continue its rapid development with several onsite program evaluation visits scheduled for 2017. With its mission and national scope of accreditation activities well established, the NLN CNEA is preparing its petition to the US Department of Education for recognition, working closely with its assigned US Department of Education analyst.
As an autonomous division of the NLN on all matters related to accreditation, the NLN CNEA advocates for quality assurance in nursing education nationally and internationally, continuing the League’s long tradition of commitment to the pursuit of excellence in nursing education.