How the Self-Study Forum Prepares Faculty for a Site Visit


By Keri-Nunn Ellison, EdD, MSNEd, RN, CNE | Director | ACEN
Bridges, Volume XIII – Issue 4, November 2019

Self_Study Forum in Atlanta, March 2019When it comes to preparing for an accreditation site visit, the ACEN provides a number of resources for faculty. Many resources are available on the ACEN website; however, one of the most effective strategies for preparing faculty for a site visit is to attend a Self-Study Forum. The Self-Study Forum is an intensive, day-and-a-half continuing education workshop designed to facilitate understanding of the ACEN Standards and Criteria, give guidance on how to write the Self-Study Report, and prepare the governing organization’s faculty for the onsite visit. The Self-Study Forum also provides an opportunity for attendees to network with other ACEN-accredited program faculty and administrators as well as the ACEN Directors.

The Self-Study Forum is an excellent opportunity to interact directly with both the ACEN Directors and your nurse faculty colleagues to gain a deeper understanding of each Criterion within the ACEN Accreditation Standards. During the Self-Study Forum, the Directors give real-life examples and interactive guidance on how to write the Self-Study Report and prepare for an accreditation site visit. Common challenges and Criteria frequently cited as areas needing development or as in non-compliance are emphasized throughout the Forum.

The purpose of the Self-Study Forum is to help participants develop an understanding of the Standards and Criteria and how they can apply the Criteria to their own programs. The Forum provides detailed information about the 2017 Standards and Criteria and helps attendees learn how to tell more effectively the program’s story of compliance. The presentation style is interactive. Learning exercises for each Standard are included throughout the Forum, including activities designed to increase familiarity with the Criteria, identification of strategies for maintaining compliance, and demonstrating said compliance to peers. A special focus of the Forum is on Standard 6 Outcomes, and participants are asked to bring their own Systematic Plan of Evaluation (SPE) so the ACEN Directors can help attendees to evaluate their plan through comparison to the ACEN Criteria.

Self-Study Forums are beneficial for nurse administrators, faculty, staff of ACEN-accredited programs (or Candidate programs), and anyone considering ACEN accreditation. The Self-Study Forum is recommended for any program preparing for an initial or continuing accreditation site visit, or for programs on Conditions, Warning, or Good Cause. While attendance is beneficial for a program at any stage in the accreditation process, the most benefit can be gained by attending 2–3 years prior to the next scheduled site visit. Self-Study Forums are typically held 2–3 times each year in different locations around the United States. Please click here for the upcoming offerings. We hope to see you at a Self-Study Forum soon!

Welcome to the Newly Elected Members of your BOC


THE VOTES ARE IN! Effective October 1st, 2019, these newly and reelected Commissioners will join the Board of Commissioners who govern your ACEN:

Newly Elected

Shari Gholson
(Nurse Educator)

[toggle title=”BIOGRAPHY” open=”no”]

Dr. Shari Gholson, DNP, RN, CNE has 33 years of nursing experience, including 20 years in nursing education. She is a professor of nursing at West Kentucky Community and Technical College and is serving as Dean of the Nursing Division and program coordinator of the Associate Degree Nursing Program since 2006.

Shari earned her Doctorate in Nurse Practice from Northern Kentucky University, Master’s Degree in Nursing from Vanderbilt University (clinical nurse specialist) and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Murray State University. She also holds the Certified Nurse Educators credential. She has served the college in a number of leadership roles including faculty representative to the WKCTC Board of Directors, chair of the Kentucky Community and Technical College Nursing Curriculum Committee, and has presented at local, state, national, and international conferences/workshops.

Dr. Gholson has served as an ACEN site visitor since 2013, a team chair since 2015, and an Evaluation Review Panel member since 2016. She is a member of several professional associations including Sigma Theta Tau International, American Nurses Association, National League for Nursing, Kentucky Deans and Directors, Kentucky Council of Associate Degree Nursing, and Kentucky Nurses Action Coalition.

Shari considers it an honor walk beside nursing faculty of WKCTC as they chose to teach those that will follow them into the nursing profession and will value the opportunity to do the same with the ACEN organization.


Scott Thigpen
(Nurse Educator)

[toggle title=”BIOGRAPHY” open=”no”]

Dr. Scott Thigpen, DNP, RN, MSN, CCRN is a Professor of Nursing at South Georgia State College (SGSC) in Douglas, GA. He has led the LPN-RN Bridge program, the ASN program and developed and implemented the RN-BSN program. Dr. Thigpen has served on the SGSC Academic Leadership Team and lead accreditation activities including three successful accreditation site visits for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) for the level change from a two-year to four-year college, campus consolidation, and the decennial accreditation as a new institution. He has led SACSCOC substantive changes for the BS in Nursing and the BS in Long-term Healthcare Management.

Dr. Thigpen holds an ASN from South Georgia State College, a BSN and MSN in Adult Health from Valdosta State University and the Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA. He is a Certified Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) and a proud member of the American Association of Critical Care Nursing (AACN) where he has served as a speaker at the National Teaching Institute (NTI) for over ten years. He also served as an Endocrine content expert for the AACN Essentials of Critical Care Nursing Orientation Online (ECCO 3.0) which has been utilized by over 1100 nursing facilities in the United States and Canada to orient nurses to progressive care and critical care units. Dr. Thigpen has presented extensively on a variety of nursing and leadership topics throughout the Unites States and internationally in Australia, Canada and Mexico.

In the field of nursing regulation, Dr. Thigpen has served on the Georgia Board of Nursing (2003-2010), as Vice President, Nursing Education Representative, Legal/Discipline Cognizant, and Site Visitor. He represented Georgia as a delegate to the National Council of State Board of Nursing and has been an NCLEX-RN item reviewer.

At the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), Dr. Thigpen has attended Nurse Administrator Workshops, Self-Study Forums and Site Visitor Training. He was a member of the ACEN 2017 Standards and Criteria Revision Team and has enjoyed serving the profession as a site visitor and an evaluation review panel member. In his spare time, he enjoys working on the family farm and leading praise and worship at his church.


Lisa A. Young

[toggle title=”BIOGRAPHY” open=”no”]

Dr. Lisa A. Young DNP, APN, FNP-BC received her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Iowa. Dr. Young received her Bachelors of Nursing, Master’s in Nursing and nurse practitioner training with a focus on community health nursing from Saint Xavier University.

Dr. Young is a board certified family nurse practitioner with over twenty years of experience. Dr. Young is currently the Director of the Wellness/Health Center and an Associate Professor in Nursing at Chicago State University. Her early graduate nursing research on nurse practitioners in nurse managed centers as a cost effective alternative to emergency departments led her to Chicago State University. During her tenure, she conceptualized, implemented, and developed the nurse managed center which serves the campus community. She has clinical oversight and operations of the health center and the Office of Student Health Insurance to ensure students have access to preventative and affordable health care. She has continued to maintain her clinical practice working in the Wellness/Health Center and within the retail industry continuing to serve those without access to affordable health care. Dr. Young served as Interim, Chairperson for the bachelor’s and masters of nursing program and as Interim Assistant Dean for the College of Health Sciences at Chicago State University. Dr. Young’s research interests include nurse managed centers, using assessment to address targeted violence, HIV prevention, health disparities among ethnic minorities. She has an active interest in health policy and nursing political advocacy.

Dr. Young is a member of several professional organizations which includes Sigma Theta Tau International, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Nurses Association, ANA-Illinois, American College Health Association, American Public Health Association, and the Illinois Society of Advanced Practice Nurses. She has contributed professionally as a peer evaluator for the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) as one of the initial clinician peer evaluators with over nineteen years of accreditation experience. Dr. Young has served as a national delegate for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on a USAID South African Area initiative and educational presentations and US delegate in China.

Dr. Young received her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Iowa, her Bachelors and Master’s in Nursing and nurse practitioner training from Saint Xavier University.


Susan Zlotlow
(Public Member)

[toggle title=”BIOGRAPHY” open=”no”]

Susan Zlotlow, Ph.D. retired after more than 18 years as the Director of the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation and an Associate Executive Director of the Education Directorate at the American Psychology Association. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester and her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Connecticut. She also received an honorary doctoral degree from Palo Alto University. Dr. Zlotlow’s publication and presentation history includes articles on child development and socialization, teaching, and accreditation in psychology.

Dr. Zlotlow taught at Wheaton College (Massachusetts) and has taught undergraduate and graduate classes at the University of Maryland at College Park. She served as a consultant to the public-school system in Albuquerque, New Mexico as well as engaged in clinical practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico and inner-city Baltimore. Prior to working in accreditation, Dr. Zlotlow served as the Assistant Dean in the Graduate School at the University of Maryland, College Park working on internal and external grant funding, including the institutional IRB, research review committees, as well as committees focused on campus resources for graduate students and faculty.

In her more than 18 years in accreditation, Dr. Zlotlow served as the Chair of the External Recognition Issues Committee of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors, a group of programmatic and specialized accreditors that met with members of the Department of Education and Congress on issues related to accreditation. She also represented that group as a negotiator in the 2007 negotiated rulemaking hearings on accreditation issues in the US Higher Education Act. She also served for two terms as a member of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) committee of Specialized/National Accreditation. Dr. Zlotlow served on the Sullivan Commission that reviewed how accreditation standards in health professions impact diversity of those professions. She has received awards for her service from the American Psychological Association, several training councils in psychology, as well as from the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors.




Debbie Rahn
(Nurse Educator)

[toggle title=”BIOGRAPHY” open=”no”]

Dr. Debbie Rahn, EdD, MSN, RN Director of the Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences (RHSHS), is a current member of the ACEN Board of Commissioners and is seeking reelection for a second term of service. While serving on the ACEN Board of Commissioners for the past few years, Dr. Rahn has served on the finance and substantive change committees, as well as serving as an ERP chair and a site visitor. In Dr. Rahn’s current position as Director of the School of Health Sciences, she is responsible for the leadership of multiple diploma and certificate programs including nursing (RN), medical imaging (MI), surgical technology (ST), clinical pastoral education (CPE), Medical Laboratory Science, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, phlebotomy, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced EMT, and paramedic programs. Dr. Rahn is a graduate of RHSHS (Nursing Program), Penn State University (BSN), Villanova University (MSN in Nursing Education), and Drexel University (doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Management with a focus in Higher Education). Dr. Rahn has provided leadership at the school to create dual admission programs for the Nursing, MI, and ST Programs whereby students are dually admitted to a local four year university, receive both a diploma from RHSHS and an associate degree from the university at the time of graduation, and then have the opportunity to seamlessly transition into the university’s BSN (nursing) or Bachelors of Health Sciences (MI, ST) programs. The role as Director of a School of Health Sciences requires that Dr. Rahn work with a variety of program accreditation agencies.

Dr. Rahn has held multiple roles in professional and academic settings including staff nurse, Assistant Head Nurse of an inpatient psychiatric setting, Nurse Manager of an inpatient oncology unit, nursing program faculty, curriculum coordinator, director of a nursing program, and her current role as Director of the School of Health Sciences. She was awarded two grants to increase the use of simulation pedagogy in nursing education. Dr. Rahn has held a variety of leadership roles especially in the areas of ethics, nursing education, and nursing research. Debbie Rahn is a founding member of the Berks Regional Nursing Research Alliance, a grassroots organization representing multiple academic and practice partners, and designed to engage nurses in research and evidence base practice in a geographic area void of a major academic research institution. Dr. Rahn has a long-standing interest in bio-ethics, and currently serves as the vice-chair of the Reading Health System Ethics Committee. One of Dr. Rahn’s research interests is in the role of nursing teamwork related to patient outcomes including nurse-sensitive patient outcomes. She has presented at a variety of local, regional and national conferences, and her research on Transformational Teamwork has been published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality (JNCQ).

Dr. Rahn is a member of multiple professional organizations and has served the profession on state and national committees including Pennsylvania Coalition for the Advancement of Nursing Education (PCANE), Pennsylvania Academic Progression in Nursing (PAPIN), National Education Progression in Nursing Collaborative (NEPIN), Hospital Association of Pennsylvania task force on healthcare workforce, and was the former co-chair for the Pennsylvania Southeast II Regional Action Coalition, addressing recommendations related to nursing education from the Institute of Medicine’s The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, (IOM, 2011).


Vivian Yates
(Nurse Educator)

[toggle title=”BIOGRAPHY” open=”no”]

Dr. Vivian Yates, Ph.D., RN has served as the Dean of Nursing at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio since 2013. She is responsible for the management of a multi-campus nursing program that includes practical and associate degree nursing programs with traditional, LPN to RN, and accelerated tracks. Over 800 students are enrolled in the programs with 42 full-time faculty.

With over 35 years in the nursing profession, Dr. Yates has a background in clinical nursing, academia, nursing administration, and nursing program accreditation. Her clinical background is medical-surgical and psychiatric nursing, serving in both clinical and managerial positions in hospital settings. She has over 25 years of teaching and administrative experience in nursing education; teaching in baccalaureate, associate degree, and practical nursing programs. Her research background includes examining the various facets of cultural diversity in nursing and health care.

Dr. Yates has extensive experience in the area of nursing education accreditation. She served as the Associate Director for Program Accreditation Support for the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) in Atlanta, Georgia from 2009 – 2011. She began serving as a site visitor in 1997, and served on several Evaluation Review Panels from 2000 – 2009. She has served as a consultant for nursing programs across the country and has presented at national forums on nursing program accreditation.

Dr. Yates is a member of several national and state nursing organizations including the American Nurses Association, the National League for Nursing, the Ohio Council of Associate Degree Nursing Education Administrators, and the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing. She has served as vice-president and president of her local chapter of the Ohio Nurses Association. She is a member of several nursing advisory boards in northeast Ohio, and serves on the Board of Directors at University Hospitals in Cleveland.

Dr. Yates earned an associate’s degree in nursing at Lorain County Community College, a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Akron, a master’s degree in nursing at Kent State University, and a PhD in education at the University of Akron.


Kathleen Zajic
(Nurse Educator)

[toggle title=”BIOGRAPHY” open=”no”]

Dr. Kathleen Zajic, EdD, MSN, RN is Professor of Nursing at the College of Saint Mary (CSM) in Omaha, Nebraska. In her 28 years at CSM, Dr. Zajic has served in many administrative and appointed roles including Professor of Nursing, Director of Undergraduate Nursing, Chair of Health Professions, and the Associate Dean of Health Professions. Her career path and roles have been diverse but Dr. Zajic has a passion for nursing education and finds her true home in the classroom and clinical settings. In addition, Dr. Zajic has assumed a variety of appointed and elected roles within the nursing program, division, and college-wide committees; including being elected by her peers to serve as Chair; Faculty Assembly Council.

Dr. Zajic earned her EdD (with an emphasis in Health Professions) from the College of Saint Mary, her MSN (with an emphasis in Community Health Nursing and Nursing Leadership and Management) from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and her BSN from Creighton University. Dr. Zajic has expertise in curriculum design, program evaluation, leadership, and community health nursing. Dr. Zajic has also served as a consultant within and outside of nursing on curriculum development, design, implementation, program assessment, and an array of public health initiatives.

Dr. Zajic has served as an ACEN site visitor since 2013, ERP chair since 2018, and was a member of the ACEN Standards and Criteria for Transition to Practice Task Force from 2016-2018. Dr. Zajic was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2016, serving as the Chair of the Substantive Change committee since 2017. Dr. Zajic is a member of several professional organizations including Sigma Theta Tau International, Gamma Pi Chapter, the National League of Nursing, and the National Association of Local Boards of Health. Dr. Zajic provides extensive community service, serving as past chair for the Pottawattamie County Board of Health, Saint Albert School system Wellness Initiative Committee, and the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) Nurse-Family Advisory Board. When Dr. Zajic is not in the classroom or clinical area she can be found providing health care services to the underserved and vulnerable populations in the Omaha metropolitan area.



By Appointment to the Nominating Committee

Betty Damask-Bembenek
(Nurse Educator)

[toggle title=”BIOGRAPHY” open=”no”]

Dr. Betty Damask-Bembenek, EdD, MN, RN has 35 years of nursing experience in a variety of nursing healthcare settings and 20 years of experience as a nurse administrator and educator at several universities and community colleges in the western region of the U.S. Nursing has provided me with a diversity of many great experiences and nursing education is one of the most rewarding of all. The diversity of these experiences has enhanced my skill sets to create quality in nursing educational programs through structural empowerment and an inclusive environment for all stakeholders in a variety of settings.

Dr. Bembenek has been Director of Nursing Education at Colorado Mountain College since 2009, and serves as the Dean for the School of Nursing, Health Science and Public Safety. At Metro State University, she was part of the faculty for the BSN program. Dr. Bembenek served as nurse administrator and faculty member at Weber State University and Division Chair of Nursing and Health Sciences at Salt Lake Community College. Areas of teaching and clinical practice have included nursing administration, education, emergency and trauma services, medical/surgical, obstetrics, critical care and rural nursing.

Dr. Bembenek has actively participated as a program evaluator and evaluation review panel member for the Associate Degree Programs and the combined AD & BSN panels for the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) for several years. Serving on the Board of Commissioners for associate degree programs would be an honor and privilege to support continuous improvement for nursing education.

Education Background:

  • Doctoral of Education: Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership, Northcentral University, Prescott, Arizona
  • Master of Nursing: Management, University of Phoenix, College of Nursing, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Marian College, Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin
  • Associate of Science in Nursing, North Central Technical College, Wausau, Wisconsin


Each Commissioner will serve a three-year term from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2022. The exception is Shari Gholson, who will serve from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2021. The two-year term has the same expectations as the three-year; it is meant as a one-time occurrence to expand the number of nurse educators on the board to a total of 11. The 17 Board of Commissioner represent the following roles: 11 nursing education representatives, 3 nursing service representatives, and 3 public representatives. This diversification ensures the ACEN Board of Commissioners are able to give balanced representation from across identified constituencies insofar as possible.

The Board of Commissioners is a governing board and has the authority of a governing board, which is (1) ensuring the financial resources of the ACEN such as setting the fee schedule, budget, and reviewing the audit; (2) setting policy such as the policies found in the Accreditation Manual and the Standards and Criteria; and (3) most importantly, having the sole authority to determine the accreditation status of nursing programs. Members of the Board of Commissioners also serve as Chairpersons at Evaluation Review Panels, guiding the panelists through discussions and asking for status recommendations. We are very excited to congratulate our new and returning members of the Board of Commissioners!

The ACEN Cares

The ACEN Cares

ATLANTA, Dec. 5, 2017 – It is that time of year again when giving back to the communities surrounding us is weighing on our minds. As a nursing organization, the ACEN has giving back on its mind year-round.

Each year, the ACEN team participates in an out-of-office excursion to help promote teamwork as well as inner-office collaboration and growth. This year, we chose to give back to the greater Atlanta area by providing a Career Day to students in Dr. Jeannette Francis-Ferris’s Health Sciences Courses at South Cobb High School in Austell, Georgia. Professional staff, our executive team, and our administrative team shared experiences, including our educational backgrounds and what led us to the ACEN. Students engaged in conversation and questions with our team and showed a thirst for knowledge. Before leaving the high school, members of the ACEN “editing team” assisted students in writing résumés for entrance into their desired college programs.

As the year progressed, members of the ACEN family were affected by natural disasters, resulting in damage to nursing programs in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many of our programs were flooded and without power, some even without drinkable water or access to food. In an attempt to help our programs, as family does in a time of need, the ACEN enacted Policy #6 Delay/Advancement of Accreditation Visit, which allowed programs affected by the hurricanes to postpone upcoming site visits and allowed programs to submit reports outside of pre-established timeframes. Additionally, the ACEN has partnered with four non-profit organizations to encourage monetary donations to the communities hardest hit. Partnerships include the Neighborhood Health Clinic in Collier County, Florida, which was one of the worst hit areas in Florida after Hurricane Irma and home to many people below the poverty line; the Hispanic Foundation, which is the leader in the nation’s Latino non-profit organization with the objective to aid Puerto Rico in its long road to recovery; the Rebuild Texas Fund, which is a combined effort of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the OneStar Fund to provide areas of need and long-term recovery from Hurricane Harvey in Texas; and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, which supports the current and long-term needs of proceeds to their designated efforts. Recovery in these areas is ongoing, and these organizations are still accepting donations.

Finally, each year during the holiday season, the ACEN offers its support to one local homeless shelter. This year, the ACEN is working with the Covenant House: Helping Children and Youth. As the name suggests, Covenant House is a homeless shelter for teens and young adults. These individuals come from a variety of backgrounds, including abuse victims, those kicked out of their homes, those who have aged out of foster care, and victims of human trafficking; but all have one thing in common: they have nowhere else to go, especially during the holidays. So, to help make the season bright, the ACEN has organized an in-office gift drive and will be delivering the gifts mid-December.

While it is important to remember to give in the winter months, it is a great feeling to be part of an organization that gives year-round. The ACEN believes in helping the community that serves as our home, as well as our family of programs. As the holidays come and go, the ACEN wishes everyone good tidings for the year ahead.

Season’s Greetings!

Call for Abstracts – 2018 ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference

The Steering Committee of the 2018 ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference is proud to announce the theme of our inaugural conference is Quality Education Through Accreditation.  The conference provides a scholarly forum in which faculty, nurse administrators, college administrators, students, accreditation liaisons, laboratory personnel, data analysts, and staff of ACEN-accredited programs share best practices in nursing education.  The ACEN conference is your opportunity to engage in scholarship and learn new educational practices.

The 2018 ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference is scheduled July 12-14, 2018 at the Omni Hotel Atlanta – CNN Center.

Call for Abstracts for the 2018 ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference

We invite you to submit an abstract for this conference.
The deadline for abstract submissions is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, Tuesday, October 31, 2017.
Applicants will be notified via email by December 15, 2017 of acceptance decisions. All presenters are expected to register for the conference by March 31, 2018.

Submit Abstract

Abstract Submission Criteria

Abstract submissions must adhere to the published submission criteria:

  • All concurrent session and poster abstract submissions are subject to the same rules for submission and presentation.
  • Abstracts will be selected for concurrent session and poster presentations based on relevance to nursing education accreditation. 
  • The abstract length is limited to 3,200 characters (approximately 400 words). Please do not include charts, tables, or bullet points.
    • Specify the title of the abstract.
    • Describe the purpose. What is the goal/intent of the project/initiative/research?
    • Specify the significance of the project/initiative/research. Describe the relevance of the project/initiative/research. Include goals for the project/initiative/research. 
    • Identify the project/initiative/research design, sample, instruments, data collection methods, and analytical approaches as applicable. Describe how the project/initiative/research was implemented. 
    • State the findings of the project/initiative/research. Include evaluation data specifying success or areas needing improvement for the project/initiative/research as applicable. 
    • Discuss the conclusions and implications for accreditation.
    • What are the objectives/outcomes for the target audience?
  • Use title casing, capitalizing only the first letter in each word. Remember to review your submission carefully, as abstracts accepted will have the learning objective and abstract published in the ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference Program as submitted.
  • Abstract titles must be clear and accurately reflect the content of the abstract.
  • Presentations must be made in English, as no translation service will be available.
  • The content must be free of grammatical and spelling errors.
  • The author submitting the abstract will be identified as the presenting author for the abstract submitted.
  • All material must be the work of authors listed and appropriately referenced.
  • Abstracts should be informative. Abstract submissions suggesting that “the work is in progress” or “the results will be discussed” will not be accepted.
  • The subject material must be related to nursing education/accreditation and should contain new information not previously reported.
  • Accepted concurrent session and poster submissions will be organized by the ACEN staff. The ACEN staff shall have full authority to assign papers to appropriate concurrent and poster sessions.
  • The ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference Steering Committee, Subcommittees, and ACEN staff shall have full authority to accept or to reject an abstract upon evaluation of the title and the abstract. Rejection of an abstract is final.
  • You may submit an abstract for consideration as a concurrent session presentation or poster presentation. However, please do not submit the same abstract multiple times.
  • An individual cannot submit the same abstract/content for two (2) or more different sessions. You must choose either a concurrent session presentation or poster presentation. Only one (1) presentation is allowed per person or group using the same data. If you want to submit abstracts for a concurrent session and poster presentation, the content of the material discussed must be different for each presentation and with clearly different abstracts.
  • Submitted abstracts may be edited until October 31, 2017, 11:59 PM Eastern Time.
  • No abstract will be presented at the 2018 ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference that has been presented previously or that has appeared in print prior to the conference.
  • Abstract submissions accepted will be published in the ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference Program only if the presenting author(s) is/are registered and paid in full by March 31, 2018. If the presenting author(s) is/are not registered and paid in full by this date, the abstract will be removed from the program. Conference registration fee is $599.00 before May 28, 2018 and $749.00 on or after May 28, 2018.
  • If your abstract is accepted, detailed information, guidelines, and recommendations for poster presentations, concurrent session presentation as well as time allotment, date, hour, and venue will be communicated to you at a later date.

 Abstract Submission Instructions

Abstract submissions must adhere to the published instructions:

  • Abstracts must be submitted online. Paper abstracts will not be accepted.
  • Select the abstract topic for which you are submitting.
  • Indicate whether submission is to be considered for concurrent session presentation only, poster presentation only, or either concurrent session or poster presentation.
    • Concurrent Session Presentation:
      • A one (1) hour concurrent session, including response to audience questions. Abstracts with similar content may be grouped together by the program committee from individual abstracts accepted for presentation.
    • Poster Presentation:
      • A time of one and a half (1 1/2) hours for poster presentations will be designated by the conference program committee. A traditional poster session is a single abstract presentation of research or evidence-based information presented by the author and/or co-authors. The work is presented on a large poster.
    • Either Concurrent Session or Poster Presentation:
      • Abstract submitted may be considered for either a concurrent session or poster presentation. 
  • The abstract length is limited to 3,200 characters. You will be advised of your character count usage throughout the submission process.
  • Review your submission carefully, as abstracts accepted will have the learning objective and abstract published in the ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference Program as submitted.
  • Presenting author(s) or presenter(s) of accepted abstracts must register to attend the ACEN Accreditation Conference by March 31, 2018. Conference registration fee is $599.00 before May 28, 2018/$749.00 on or after May 28, 2018.
  • Submission of an abstract does not automatically register you for the conference.
  • For up-to-date meeting information, visit the ACEN conference website often.
  • List affiliations for all authors, such as universities and other institutions.
  • Do not use tables, charts, or graphs in your abstract submission (they can be included in the actual concurrent session/poster presentation).
  • List disclosures (financial and/or in-kind support). If none, state “Nothing to disclose by any author(s)”.  Potential conflicts of interest must be disclosed at the time of abstract submission and presentation, and must not introduce bias in the study design.

 Submit Abstract

 Abstract Evaluation Criteria

Abstracts will be evaluated based on the submission criteria using a five-point scale:

  • Standard of Excellence = five (5)
  • Approaching Standard of Excellence = four (4)
  • Meets Acceptable Standard = three (3)
  • Needs additional work = two (2)
  • Does Not Meet Acceptable Standard = one (1)

As part of the assessment, abstracts will be rated based on the following categories:

  • Originality
    • Is the abstract novel and interesting?
    • Will the information/data add to current body of knowledge related to nursing education/accreditation?
    • Is the research question/topic important?
    • Are the results/outcomes useful?
  • Structure
    • Are the key elements included (title, purpose, significance, project/research design, findings, and conclusion)?
  • Content
    • Does the content of the abstract reflect the title?
    • Is the content meaningful and substantive?
  • Methods
    • Are the methods clearly described and appropriate?
  • Results
    • Are the author’s conclusions supported by the results?
  • Language
    • Is the abstract well written and grammatically correct?

Committee members will also review and take into consideration the potential conflicts of interest and/or financial disclosures of the abstract authors in cases where there is a concern.

Notification of Acceptance

All notifications will be sent by email.  It is the submitter’s responsibility to ensure that a valid email address is correct and current. ACEN is not responsible for confirmations not received due to incorrect contact information. An email confirmation will be sent upon successful submission of an abstract.

If your abstract is accepted for presentation, you will be notified by email on or before December 15, 2017. You will receive additional information in a following email describing the guidelines for your presentation (concurrent session or poster). Presenters are required to attend the conference.

All abstract presenters will be asked to confirm receipt of their notification email and officially accept the invitation to present their abstract. If you do not receive a notification email, check your spam/junk folder before contacting the ACEN.

Publication Rights

The ACEN retains the exclusive rights of publication for abstracts submitted.

Meeting Registration

All presenters (concurrent session and poster) are required to pay the conference registration fee. Conference registration fee is $599.00 before May 28, 2018/$749.00 on or after May 28, 2018. Conference registration fees are published online and through online registration. For up-to-date meeting information, visit the ACEN conference website often.

Presenter Requirements

About Session Presentations
Concurrent session presenters will be provided Session Presentation Guidelines if the abstract is accepted for concurrent session presentation and will also be available for download from the ACEN conference website. It is very important that speakers keep within the allotted time. Speakers will not be permitted to connect laptops to the LCD projector. Presenters must send the files for their presentation and handouts to the ACEN office no later than May 15, 2018.  Presentations will be preloaded into the meeting room laptops. Speakers must disclose financial relationships and discussion of any unlabeled/investigational use of a commercial product immediately prior to their presentation verbally and on a presentation slide. Speakers must also ensure that presentations are free of commercial bias and that any information regarding commercial products/services is based on scientific methods generally accepted by the academic community. Speakers must arrive 20 minutes before presentation.

About Poster Presentations
Poster presenters will be provided Poster Presentation Guidelines if the abstract is accepted for poster presentation and will also be available for download from the ACEN conference website. Dimensions for poster presentations will be provided within guidelines and may not exceed maximum dimensions. Posters larger than the maximum dimensions will be removed from the poster viewing session and will not have their abstract published. All poster presenters are required to display disclosures of financial relationships and discussion of any unlabeled/investigational use of a commercial product directly on posters. This is required to be a minimum of 14 point font size. Poster boards will be set and numbered at the conference.  Accepted poster presenters will be notified of their assigned poster number and should set up their own posters using their own push-pins. Please do not change the location of your poster. The poster number, title, and each presenter’s name will be posted at the assigned poster display booth. Logos and advertising material should not be displayed. Bear in mind that the illustrations and text must be legible/visible from a distance of at least five (5) feet. All lines should be heavily drawn. Typed materials should be on the largest typeface available. One (1) author of each poster abstract is responsible for the proper assembly, mounting, and presentation of the poster board. Posters should be staffed during all breaks and scheduled poster and exhibit times. Poster displays should be dismantled by 10:00 a.m. on July 14, 2018. It is the presenter’s responsibility to remove the poster from the board. Unclaimed posters will be discarded at the end of the poster session.

Abstract Cancellation Policy

Cancellations impose a serious burden on the development of the conference program and may negatively impact the overall quality of the program.

Please do not submit an abstract if you are not confident that you will be able to attend the conference and make the presentation. If your presentation has been accepted but extenuating circumstances prevent your attendance, please attempt to find another individual to make the presentation and notify the ACEN of this change as soon as possible at (404) 975-5000.

If cancellation becomes absolutely unavoidable, please contact the ACEN immediately at the aforementioned email address so we can remove your presentation from the conference program.

ACEN reserves the right to disqualify your abstract if your submission guidelines are not followed, even after acceptance.


Hotel Reservations & Travel Information

The official hotel for the conference is the OMNI Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center. The reservation line to book rooms opens on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 by calling OMNI Reservations at 1-800-THE-OMNI. Be sure to make your reservations by Monday, June 11, 2018 and identify the meeting as the “ACEN Nursing Education Accreditation Conference” to get the discounted rate of $189.00/night plus state and local taxes and fees. For your convenience, you may also make hotel reservations directly online at You will be required to guarantee the reservation with a credit card. After the cutoff date or once the room block is sold out, rooms will be booked at prevailing rates, if available. In-room complimentary Wi-Fi access is included in the room rate. The Omni offers unique and sophisticated rooms featuring breathtaking views overlooking the downtown Atlanta skyline, Centennial Park, and the lively CNN Center atrium. Amenities include spa, pool with view of CNN center from the deck, a 24-hour fitness center, complimentary in-room fitness kits, a business center, and easy access to numerous restaurants, parks, and the World of Coke.


For more information about air/ground transportation travel to Atlanta, arrival times and terminal information, please visit before embarking on your trip.

Ground Transportation
In Atlanta, the recommended ground transportation is MARTA (, Atlanta’s light rail system. MARTA runs directly from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center Transit Center, located steps away from Omni Hotel-Atlanta. At the Atlanta Airport, you can access the MARTA station from inside the building near the western end of the baggage claim area. (Do not go outside to the ground transportation area.)  Purchase a round-trip ticket for $6.00 and take the GOLD or RED LINE towards Five Points Station. This trip will take approximately 20-30 minutes depending on the time of day you arrive. Look for the signs directing you to the westbound train. (You will have to take an escalator up to get to it.) Board the westbound train and travel one (1) stop to the Omni/Dome/CNN/GWCC Station. Exit the train and take escalator up to the ground level. Walk up the stairs on your right – the Philips Arena is now on your left. Walk down the stairs ahead of you, and then walk through the doors ahead. You are now inside CNN Center. Walk straight, through the food court, past Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, until the food court ends. Make a left and take the escalator up. You are now inside the Omni-Atlanta Hotel Lobby.

If you need assistance, feel free to call the ACEN office (404-975-5000), and a staff member will assist you.


Publishing Student Achievement Outcome Data

As you know, at the March 3-4, 2016 ACEN Board of Commissioners meeting, ACEN Policy #29 Advertising and Recruitment of Students was approved by the Board. The ACEN Accreditation Manual was updated reflecting this change, and you may access the Accreditation Manual at

Policy #29 sets parameters for a governing organization/nursing program regarding advertising, publications, and promotional literature. Please note, nursing programs must now publish its student achievement data regarding graduates’ success on the licensure and/or certification examination, students’ completion of the nursing program, and graduates obtaining a job, as well as additional student achievement data as the governing organization/nursing program considers appropriate to demonstrate the extent to which graduates are adequately prepared. This information must be made publicly available by July 1, 2016.

Guidelines for publishing these outcomes data are available on the ACEN website at

Why Eight-Year Accreditation Cycles?

8 Years is 8 Years…

A question often asked is why is the accreditation timeframe for ACEN eight (8) years instead of ten (10) years like other accrediting agencies, and whether ACEN is considering changing its accreditation cycle from eight (8) years to ten (10) years?

About 12 years ago the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) told all accrediting agencies that a ten (10) year interval between accreditation cycles was too long of an interval. Currently, eight (8) years is the longest acceptable interval between accreditation cycles. Yes, some accrediting agencies have a ten (10) year interval between accreditation cycles however, to satisfy the USDOE mandate all institutions/programs must demonstrate compliance through an interim report midway between cycles – at the fifth year. This report carries all the weight that any review by the accrediting agency’s governing board bears.

For example, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has a ten (10) year cycle and Fifth Year Interim Report. The same is true with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which requires all its accredited programs to produce a continuous improvement progress report at the fifth year. So at face value it appears as if some accrediting agencies have a ten (10) year cycle and while true, what many don’t realize is all institutions/programs must write an interim report too. So in reality, institutions/programs are doing an accreditation process/report every five (5) years.

ACEN is not considering changing its eight (8) year accreditation cycle. At ACEN eight (8) years really means eight (8) years; ACEN accredited programs are not doing an accreditation process midway through the accreditation cycle.