Quote from proRN
Hey Vickie, I am interested in what educators in other states think regarding accreditation. I teach at a community college that is NLNAC accredited and we work hard to maintain it. However, many of the schools in our state have dropped accreditation all together. Especially the technical colleges with LPN programs, (4 out of 23 are accredited). This seems to be related to the NLNAC requirement of faculty preparation at the MSN level. The LPN programs hire faculty at the ADN and BSN level due to the current shortage. What do you think of this? Is this the case anywhere else? I recently spoke to the director of the largest tech college in the metro area of our state who said that she has just added more slots to her LPN prgram, and has no idea where she will find faculty to teach. I said that it seems irresponsible to do such a thing. The colleges want the enrollment regardless of the limited supply of qualified faculty. So, is accreditation important or not??
I'm sure there are many different opinions about this subject, all equally valid, and I will give mine. I know of no
research to support any correlation between national accreditation and benchmarks of program quality. Very few boards of nursing require accreditation. According to data published by National Council State Boards of Nursing; only six (6) of sixty-two (62) Boards of Nursing mandate national accreditation.
This is quite a controversial topic, especially here in North Carolina, in which our BON is proposing mandated NLNAC (or CCNE) accreditation for all schools of nursing without guaranteed provision of funds. National accreditation is very costly, both the initial and continuing accrediting process. Questions have been raised about the value of accreditation in light of such cost, especially when most schools of nursing are counting every penny to make ends meet. The North Carolina Community College System office estimates that it will cost 12 million dollars
to achieve accreditation for all of its nursing education programs (both ADN and LPN) and meet the requirements such as faculty required to have a master's degree.
As you mentioned, one of the NLNAC accreditation requirements is that all faculty, full time and part time, have master's degrees in nursing. A recent survey of Associate Degree Nursing programs
in North Carolina indicate that if all their faculty were required to have master's degrees today, 25 programs; that is 54% of those responding, would have to decrease enrollment numbers by 1,450 students when the faculty/student ratio is 1:10 and decrease by 1,881 students when the faculty/student ratio is 1:8 which is more realistic and allows for greater safety in nursing practice. Enrollment in these programs would decrease by more than 50%. How is this going to help the nursing shortage?
You will find this article most enlightening: http://www.nursingworld.org/ojin/tpc4/tpc4_2.htm
Issues in nursing education accreditation run the gamut from: "Do we really need it?" to "Does it have to take so much time and energy?" Ironically, it is often the more sophisticated programs (those most likely to pass with flying colors) that see the accreditation processes as redundant. For these programs, the process may be measured only by the lost opportunity costs of faculty and administrative time put into the extensive requirements of preparing a self-report. (AACN claims that shortening the process will be one of its chief aims.) On the other hand, some smaller or newer programs need the clout (or threat) of accreditation requirements to gain resources from the home institution.
Early in its professional development, nursing schools were well served by the accreditation process. It provided sound guidelines and clout with the home institutions; it weeded out failing programs that needed to be closed. In the present era, however, many schools of nursing are feeling over-regulated. State evaluation for nursing programs, general collegiate evaluation, and NLN evaluation together consume a heavy dose of scarce time of deans and faculties. Cost and time are big factors in an era of down-sizing -- a phenomenon that education has not escaped.
Backing away from the politics, one can ask the perfectly justifiable question of whether nursing still needs and profits from a specialized professional evaluation apart from state evaluation and academic accreditation of the home institution in which the nursing program is housed. The answer might lie in a careful assessment of what is gained collectively through accreditation at this time. One measure might be some study of the actual, contemporary changes that have taken place in nursing programs due to NLN accreditation. Nitty-gritty measures would serve to answer this question, items like: how many schools actually got bigger budgets, more nursing library books, or more faculty lines in order to meet accreditation standards? It would be interesting to have cost/benefit studies balancing what was gained versus what was lost in dean and faculty time for report preparation.