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Very important...... Very. You will not be able to pass the nclex... Is what I have heard.. Not accredited means they don't meet requirements of other nursing schools which provide success. I wouldn't do it but that's just me.
OK, so I can't speak for nursing schools but I took a different program in the past that was undergoing accreditation. At that point, it seemed like an OK goal. Long story short, I graduated, the school didn't get the high level accreditation (retained regional accreditation) so if I were to continue in that line of training, I'd need to repeat that training elsewhere.
The accreditation process is long, expensive, and complicated -- there are plenty of perfectly fine nursing programs "out there" that have chosen not to pursue accreditation, and there are some poor-quality accredited programs (just as there are plenty of non-Magnet hospitals that are good hospitals and good employers, and some Magnet hospitals that are crummy on both counts).
However, having said that, you are much better off in terms of your own professional future if you attend an accredited (NLNAC or CCNE, the nursing-specific accreditations) program. Most programs of higher education in nursing, including most graduate programs, require that applicants be graduates of an accredited program in order to be eligible. And it's not just a matter of school -- a growing number of healthcare employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs, including some of the most desirable healthcare employers in the US (the entire US military, the entire VA system, most big academic medical centers, lots of other hospitals ...). IMO, there's no point in closing off so many future educational and career opportunities to yourself this early in the process.
Accreditation is very important. What you want at the minimum is your program to be accredited through at least the state BRN. If your program is not at least accredited through the states, you should avoid them. The other accrediting bodies, NLNAC or the CCNE, are additional accrediting bodies, but if for some reason the school were to lose its state BRN accreditation, and were still able to maintain its accreditation through the NLNAC or the CCNE, I would have to say good luck in getting your authorization to test through that particular state's BRN.
One of the issues with accreditation through an additional body other than the state BRN, is that those accreditations do cost money. In this era of reduced budgets, I would imagine that nursing schools would maintain their accreditation if they can afford it, otherwise they will do whatever they need to order to maintain accreditation with each particular state. In the Sacramento region, only California State University, Sacramento is accredited with either of those two additional bodies. The other nursing programs that I am familiar with do not have any of those certifications/accreditations, including the private colleges. Samuel Merritt's Sacramenot Extension program is probably accredited through it's Oakland main campus.
Our community college lost their nursing accredidatipn but since they're approved by the Ohio board of nursing, students can still graduate and take the NCLEX. My friend went through it & got hired. As long as the school itself is accredited then it shouldn't be a problem finding a job
If you plan on going for a masters or further degree, most programs require you to attend an accredited program. So if after 10 years you decide to go for your masters and you attended a non-accredited program, sadly you will have to attend college again to get an RN from an accredited program. Not to mention, the accredited programs are generally (not always but generally) have a better program with better instructors.
If the program isn't accredited don't even bother!! You won't be able to take the NCLEX if you don't go to an accredited school! Stay away!!
I'm not sure why people keep saying this. There is no US state that requires nursing programs to be NLNAC or CCNE accredited for graduates to be eligible for boards. The only requirement (in terms of what school you attend) to be eligible for licensure is that the program be approved by the state BON. There are a few state BONs that use the terms "accreditation" and "accredited" to refer to what all the other state BONs refer to as "approval" and "approved," which I'm sure contributes to the confusion. However, those states are still talking about approval by the state BON (a minimum requirement for nursing programs to legally operate in any state), not NLNAC or CCNE accreditation.