The ACEN and OADN Announce a Partnership

ATLANTA, Dec. 5, 2017 – The board members of the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN) made the announcement today that the two organizations have entered into a partnership. The goal of this partnership is to increase the benefits and the efficacy of the support network for associate degree nursing (ADN) programs and their students. While both the ACEN and OADN will continue to operate completely independently and will not gain any ownership interests, rights, or financial stakes in the companion organization, the constituents of each organization will see many benefits immediately:

Members of OADN will have direct access to assistance, advice, continuing education, and current best practices related to accreditation. Through the partnership there will be an increase in opportunities to learn and engage in the accreditation process for all associate degree programs reaching the important achievement of initial and/or continuing accreditation.

Faculty members associated with the ACEN’s accredited programs and OADN’s members can increase their skill development, teambuilding, and leadership through separate and joint programming offered by the ACEN and OADN, and will be able to more readily connect and network with the community of ADN program faculty throughout the United States.

Both the ACEN and OADN will be able to improve their outreach efforts to support ADN programs, and will be able to enhance and supplement their current professional development offerings, benefitting both the ACEN’s accredited programs and OADN’s members.

The partnership will facilitate ACEN accredited programs and OADN members access to timely and important information about academic progression, which will further advance the success of graduates from ADN programs.

Dr. Marsal P. Stoll, Chief Executive Officer for the ACEN, sees this partnership as another way for the organization to concretely carry out its mission. Says Dr. Stoll, “The ACEN has accredited associate degree programs since the inception of our agency in the 1950’s and the majority of ACEN-accredited programs are associate degree programs; currently 721 associate degree programs hold ACEN accreditation. This partnership with OADN is another way for the ACEN to fulfill its commitment of being a supportive partner for nursing education programs.”

ACEN is the largest accreditor of ADN programs and the only accrediting agency for ADN programs recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. OADN strongly supports accreditation as evidenced by a 2017 revised position paper [1] stating that “accreditation remains a constant, nationally recognized marker of educational quality and program outcome achievement.” OADN’s Chief Executive Officer Donna Meyer stated, “ADN programs are crucial to meeting the nursing workforce needs of our country. These programs are of the highest caliber and accreditation only reinforces this status. Additionally, non-accredited programs may be restricted from obtaining clinical placement sites, face decreased ability to obtain federal grant dollars, and impede the graduate’s ability to move forward in their education. The OADN Board of Directors believes strongly that working in partnership with ACEN we can increase the number of accredited ADN Programs.”

In support of accreditation and academic progression, OADN is one of the national organizations taking the lead in the new initiative on academic progression, the National Education Progression in Nursing (NEPIN) collaborative, partially funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. To learn more about the ACEN, programmatic accreditation and the benefits thereof, please visit For more information about OADN, the only national organization dedicated to associate degree nursing, please visit

[1] “Accreditation Position Statement,” OADN,

The Time Has Come and We’re Here to Help!

ATLANTA, Dec. 5, 2017 – As a reminder, the 2017 Standards and Criteria became effective January 1, 2017, and all programs being reviewed beginning January 1, 2018 will do so under the 2017 Standards and Criteria. To that end, the ACEN is committed to helping you as a supportive partner with the transition to the 2017 Standards and Criteria, and the ACEN staff would like to remind faculty that there are several resources to assist programs with this transition. These resources include the professional staff, online documents and guidelines, forums and workshops, as well as intensive support options.

Professional Staff
The ACEN professional staff are seasoned educators who are committed to helping programs navigate the accreditation process.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about the ACEN Standards and Criteria, policies, or procedures. We are here to help!

Online Resources – Recently Updated!
The ACEN website is a substantial online resource providing links to the ACEN Accreditation Manual, Standards and Criteria, guidelines, instructions, and templates. The ACEN would like to thank all of the individuals who have provided feedback to improve the clarity of our documents and guidelines. Faculty are encouraged to review the following updated resources which may be particularly helpful with the 2017 transition:

  • Guidelines for the Preparation of the Self-Study Report: This document is a must-use for preparing the Self-Study Report, providing not only details for formatting but also lists of essential elements which should be included in the report and/or the evidence room to support the narrative. There are also focused questions in these guidelines to help you with developing a clear and comprehensive report for your peers.
  • Sample Systematic Evaluation Plan Template: The systematic plan for program evaluation may seem overwhelming. Conversely, the 2017s have significantly reduced the information that must be included in the plan (hurray!). Though the ACEN does not mandate a particular format for the plan, this example template provides a great place to start for those new to accreditation or those transitioning their plan to the 2017s.
  • Faculty Profile Table and Instructions: Criterion 2.1 and 2.2 has significant changes in the 2017s. This table and the instructions assist faculty with providing all of the required information for peers to evaluate these Criteria as well as components of Criteria 2.3, 2.5, 2.6 and 2.10.
  • Laboratory Personnel Table and Instructions: For programs that have laboratory personnel who support the lab and/or facilitate student learning experiences, this table is necessary! Laboratory personnel are discussed in Criterion 2.7 of the Self-Study Report and these instructions will assist you with completing the table if it is applicable to your program.
  • Guidelines for the Preparation of the Follow-Up Report: Does your program have a Follow-Up Report due after January 1, 2018? If so, the faculty must write the report to the 2017s even though they may have been previously reviewed under the 2013s. These guidelines will assist you with all aspects of the report.
  • Site Visit Report Templates used by Peer Evaluators: Review the report template used by your peers during the site visit. This template can provide valuable information about the types of questions and clarifications they may ask about during the visit. Feel free to copy tables into your own reports for ease of use by your peers!
  • ACEN Glossary: End-of-program student learning outcomes; program outcomes, laboratory personnel; program coordinators; sufficient full-time faculty; communities of interest; partnerships; program completion. What do these terms really mean? Check out the glossary to ensure you understand to what your peers are referring!
  • Side-by-Side Comparison: This document provides a comparison of the 2017 and current 2013 Standards and Criteria reflecting a description of the changes. Check this out for rationales as well as details for helping your programs’ transition!
  • Open Access Training Modules: These freely accessible modules are available for everyone! While all Peer Evaluators complete this online training, even you may access the materials which provide a great overview of the 2017 Standards and Criteria!


Workshops, Forums, Annual Conference
Want to hear it live? The ACEN staff provide a full review of the 2017 Standards and Criteria during Self-Study Forums each spring and fall. These forums provide attendees an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the ACEN Standards and Criteria, the self-study process, as well as guidance for writing the Self-Study Report. Bring your questions and get practical ideas for writing to the Standards and Criteria in the Self-Study Report.

We also offer workshops for program administrators, which is particularly helpful for new administrators or those new to accreditation. These workshops assist the novice or advanced-beginner nurse administrator and other program administrators who are leading an accredited program. Information related to accreditation policies, processes, and maintaining compliance with the ACEN Standards and Criteria is provided. The Program Administrators Workshop is a great way to network and share experiences with others.

Finally, the inaugural ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference in July 2018 will be a great venue to learn from your peers and discover the innovative ways other programs are meeting and exceeding the ACEN Standards! The conference theme for 2018 is “Quality Education through Accreditation” and will provide a scholarly forum in which faculty, nurse administrators, and students of ACEN-accredited programs share best practices related to nursing education accreditation. The conference is your opportunity to engage in scholarship, learn new educational practices, meet and network with your peers, interact with the ACEN Board of Commissioners, meet our dynamic Chief Executive Officer, and enjoy the numerous amenities of Atlanta, Georgia. We hope to see you there!


Intensive Resources
For programs seeking more intensive support, the ACEN offers the following options:

  • Peer Evaluator Training and Orientation: Even if you are not sure about becoming a peer evaluator, reviewing the online training may provide additional insight into the Standards and Criteria as well as demystify the process. Access is open to everyone, though CEs are only provided when you complete the training and become a peer evaluator!
  • Observer on a Site Visit Team: Have you ever wanted to know what the peer evaluators look for as they come to visit your program? This option provides programs with an opportunity to send a faculty member on a site visit to another program to observe the peer evaluators on the site visit team and obtain insight on the peer evaluation experience and process.
  • Advisory Review: Would your program like more extensive help from the professional staff? This option provides your program an opportunity for more comprehensive feedback from a professional staff member, typically 1-2 years before a scheduled continuing accreditation site visit.
  • Candidacy Mentoring: The ACEN is your supportive partner for guidelines and mentorship when seeking initial accreditation with the organization.  Professional staff are available to answer questions regarding the Candidacy process and a professional staff mentor is assigned to each program upon confirmation of eligibility. This mentor will help to guide the program through the Candidacy process. The Candidacy documents were also updated over the summer and are available to you at:

As always, ACEN professional staff are available to answer your questions. Please feel comfortable contacting us by telephone at (404) 975-5000.

Success of Programs Under Review 2017

A success rate, quite literally, does not get better than 100%. Which is why the ACEN is thrilled to share the results of its past two Board of Commissioners meetings. At the July 2017 Board of Commissioners meeting, 73 programs were reviewed for continuing accreditation and 25 programs were reviewed for initial accreditation. In total, 98 programs were reviewed, all of which were granted accreditation.

Dating back further, 62 continuing programs and 14 initial programs were reviewed at the March 2017 Board of Commissioners meeting; again, all 76 programs were granted initial or continuing accreditation. That’s 100% of programs granted accreditation in both the Spring 2017 Cycle (those reviewed in July 2017) and the Fall 2016 Cycle (those reviewed in March 2017).

This is a fantastic success rate, and the ACEN staff are justifiably excited for and proud of these programs. Anyone who has been involved in the accreditation process, either as a member of a program under review or as a peer evaluator, knows how much hard work goes into the preparation and completion of a thorough accreditation review. It may seem surprising that so many programs were successful. After all, accreditation is no guarantee; the Standards and Criteria demand consistent quality, and peer evaluation provides for extensive, experienced, and unbiased review.

So what gives?

While the ACEN never wants to see a program be unsuccessful, the nature of accreditation requires that the ACEN remain responsible for ensuring every program adheres to the Accreditation Standards, which were developed by professionals in the nursing field to represent best practices in all aspects of nursing education. While in an ideal world all nursing programs would be accredited, the Standards and Criteria exist to recognize programs of demonstrable quality as well as those needing improvement prior to joining the ranks of their peers, and in doing so they must be enforced on a consistent basis. No, the answer isn’t that ACEN is becoming lax; it’s that the ACEN staff are constantly striving to be more proactive, and the entire organization is dedicated to its mission of strengthening nursing education by helping programs help themselves.

The recent success in accreditation decisions is truly a testament to the hard work and attentive support provided by the ACEN’s staff (with reliance on an outstanding network of volunteers in the peer evaluation process and the elected Commissioners). The ACEN has a dedicated 22-person staff, all of whom have many specific roles in guiding accreditation processes. At the heart of the ACEN are the professional staff members – experienced nurse educators with seemingly endless responsibilities who guide programs and peer evaluators through each step of the accreditation process.

The ACEN’s four professional staff members are always available to answer questions, provide clarity, and otherwise assist programs in the accreditation process. Beginning the moment a program formally seeks accreditation, all four are superb resources for any program seeking clarity about any aspect of accreditation.

In the Candidacy process, programs are reviewed for eligibility and potential for success in initial accreditation. Any program not quite ready for accreditation is provided feedback and guidance and directed to resources designed to facilitate future success. In some cases, the decision to award Candidacy is deferred to allow programs the time to incorporate feedback, implement changes, and submit a revised presentation for Candidacy. Once Candidacy is achieved, professional staff members continue to prepare programs for the next steps in the accreditation process. In overseeing this process from the initial inquiry until the site visit, the professional staff have become a wealth of knowledge and experience capable of answering any question a nurse administrator may have as their program seeks ACEN accreditation.

It should also be noted that not all programs reviewed were granted continuing accreditation with no stipulations. While the ACEN prides itself on excellence in nursing education accreditation, there is always room for growth and improvement, which is why several programs were granted continuing accreditation with conditions, warning, or warning for good cause. Programs with these stipulations are required to complete follow-up actions to provide further evidence of their efforts to demonstrate compliance with the Standards and Criteria.

This where the professional staff step in. As the primary resources for programs with a stipulation, they work closely with any programs willing to seek assistance as they prepare for the next review. From programmatic discussions and in-depth explanations of the Standards to review of the draft of the Follow-Up Report, the professional staff endeavor to provide programs with as many tools as possible for improvement and success.

Educators know how powerful a tool knowledge can be. With this in mind, the ACEN strives to do everything possible to equip its programs with the understanding and awareness it takes to meet the Accreditation Standards and deliver consistently excellent nursing education at all levels. The Self-Study Forms and Workshops for Program Administrators are delivered in-person by the professional staff and are rife with information designed to broaden understanding of the accreditation process and explain the internal steps needed to successfully demonstrate compliance with the Standards and Criteria while simultaneously improving the quality of the nursing education delivered by each and every accredited program.

The ACEN is also continuously exploring new opportunities to assist programs in the process, including Advisory Reviews, through which programs can submit materials to the professional staff and receive feedback in preparation for the next accreditation review, and Observer Visits, through which a nurse administrator or faculty member has the opportunity to shadow an ACEN site visit team and experience first-hand the evaluator’s side of a site visit.

The ACEN prides itself on being a supportive partner while fulfilling its stewardship responsibilities. We do our best to behave as both leaders and partners in nursing education, and that means remaining accessible, consistent, and forward-thinking. Of course, we can’t take all the credit, either. The faculty and staff of our accredited programs also put constant effort into the delivery of high quality nursing programs; we see it every day in interactions with our partners in education.

The ACEN will review 21 programs for initial accreditation and 79 programs for continuing accreditation in the Fall 2017 Cycle and an estimated 25 programs for initial accreditation and 64 programs for continuing accreditation in Spring 2018 Cycle. A target of 100% success in each cycle may seem high, but the ACEN will never strive for anything less.