Many students do not immediately realize the importance of choosing accredited nursing schools over non-accredited ones. Normally the primary considerations that most students prioritize would be the proximity of the school, potentials for childcare, education cost, and schedules among others.
Unfortunately, failing to consider whether the institution has been accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLN-AC) or by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Educations (CCNE) are equally valid and important factors to decide on. Although it is an accepted fact that the decision can be quite difficult and challenging to make in some instances, nevertheless, it has to be done.
As a prospective nurse, it is important to realize immediately that entry level programs can be prove to be useless because of their lack of accreditation. This is a reality that every nursing student has to face up to in order to have a fruitful and lengthy career in this field of the healthcare industry. Some of the more compelling reasons to choose accredited nursing schools would have to be:
- Meeting state requirements.
There are basically only two accrediting bodies for nursing programs; CCNE and NLN-AC. Any nursing program that has been accredited by either of these agencies has the seal of approval that it has successfully met and complied with the state requirements for the training program. For ADN or Associate Degree Nursing, the accrediting body is the NLN-AC, and covers practical nursing as well as diploma programs. Some institutions may also pursue NLN-AC accreditation for BSN degrees for both clinical and graduate doctoral degrees.
The purpose of existence of the NLN-AC is to be able to deliver specialized accreditation in the field of nursing education. The CCNE on the other hand is the primary accrediting body responsible for covering BSN and graduate nursing programs from various institutions. The accreditation provided by the CCNE is acknowledged by the U.S. Secretary of Education. This lets them focus on their mission of contributing to the improvement of the public health system in the country.
The CCNE carefully identifies institutions that offer high quality nursing programs to ensure the quality of the graduates. It should be understood though that the nature of these accrediting agencies remains non-governmental, and as such are purely voluntary. However, many states recognize the immense importance of the accreditation that institutions are explicitly required to apply for one.
- Faculty experience and abundance in learning resources.
Another important reason to choose accredited nursing schools are that potential students can be assured that the quality of the teaching staff remains above par. Normally, accredited institutions have more experienced faculty members that can successfully transfer knowledge and learning methods to students resulting in quality nursing graduates. The accrediting organization verifies that every member of the faculty possess the right amount and type of training as well as credentials.
These qualifications are important because it means that they have the ability to teach nursing students the proper techniques in the delivery of patient care. The accrediting organization also looks closely at the availability of learning resources to ensure that both the tools and techniques being used in the program are updated, accessible, and comprehensive, to deliver immense benefits to students and faculty alike. This is a very important factor to consider when choosing accredited institutions.
- Nursing curriculum quality.
Both the NLN-AC and the CCNE have a standard that they follow before awarding accreditation to applying institutions. The qualities that are being considered by the accrediting organizations are in compliance with ensuring that the nursing degree programs offered to students remain in compliance with state requirements. A good example would be the review of the current and proposed curriculum to validate how prepared nursing graduates can be when it comes to their clinical practice.
Undoubtedly, this translates to the upholding of the standards and guidelines for the nursing profession in general. It also mandates the integration of best practices in nursing research to better equip students infused into the learning environments. All of these qualities are consistent with the objective of supporting quality education, optimum patient care, and safety in the workplace. These will prepare nursing graduates to readily cope with varying patient populations and healthcare environments.
- Career impact.
Accredited nursing schools can also have a substantial impact on the nursing career of graduates. It does not matter whether the career path chose is locally or internationally. To make a considerable headway in this field of the healthcare industry and pursue their dream jobs, students should choose institutions that have earned accreditation.
The primary reason is that majority of employers in both the public and private sector; base their decisions in part on the type of accreditation the institution where the nurses graduated from. In fact, the preference is not isolated to employers; some states will not allow nursing graduates to take licensing examinations unless they come from accredited institutions.
Some graduates may also fail to find employment outside their state if they come from non-accredited schools. It is likewise entirely possible that nursing graduates may find it difficult to take graduate programs unless they come from accredited schools. There are a number of post graduate institutions that rely on accreditation to evaluate the level of competence of the graduate.
There is no question that nursing students that will be able to successfully complete post graduate studies stand better chances in having the type of career they want. Not to mention that in many instances, employers go after those that have higher educational attainment instead of the nursing graduates pursuing employers. It is of course understood that post graduate studies can also pose significant difference is salary scales for nurses.
- Financial aid.
Another valid reason to choose accredited nursing schools is that students who attend these schools can have access to federal financial aid packages, unlike those that study in institutions that do not carry national certification. There is also the case of job preference, which can play a vital part in the forging of a career path. These two factors can make the entire nursing program easier for students not only academic-wise, but also financially.
All of these should be good enough reasons for potential and current nursing students to carefully consider accredited nursing schools in their selection of educational institutions to attend.
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