Frequently Asked Questions
As you know, we are experiencing uncertain times as our country and the world grapples with COVID-19 and its impact. So much has changed in a short period of time, and circumstances continue to rapidly evolve. This is challenging for all of us. Your ACEN Staff know that the nurse leaders and faculty continue to be consumed with addressing the challenges the virus has caused. The faculty continue learning to use new and old strategies for educating our next generation of nurses.
The ACEN Staff has also adjusted and embraced ways to continue serving you. To those of you who have reached out with questions, thank you for seeking guidance. As your supportive partner, we are here to assist you. Thus, this FAQ was developed based on the most frequent questions received and will be updated as needed. Keep your questions coming.
Note: Some of the answers below refer to “temporary implementation.” Per recent guidance from the United Stated Department of Education, “temporary implementation” means through December 31, 2020 or until the end of the Federally declared emergency related to COVID-19, whichever occurs later. Consult ACEN Policy #14 Substantive Changes for guidance.
Answer: This plan is consistent with the guidance provided by the ACEN about a program’s response to COVID-19, as posted on the ACEN website (www.acenursing.org). Please make sure this plan is acceptable to your State Board of Nursing and any other state or accrediting agency that has jurisdiction over your program. Please note, per the United States Department of Education, the use of distance education is not available for clock-hour courses that lead to licensure if the licensure body (e.g., board of nursing) will not accept distance learning courses or hours or give credit for them toward the number of hours a student must complete. Additionally, temporarily implemented distance education does not need to be reported as a substantive change.
Answer: The ACEN does not proscribe or prescribe any particular number of credit/quarter/clock hours in a nursing education program. Per Criterion 4.8 “The total number of credit/quarter/clock hours required to complete the defined nursing program of study is congruent with the attainment of the identified end-of-program student learning outcomes and program outcomes, and is consistent with the policies of the governing organization, the state, and the governing organization’s accrediting agency.” Additionally, Per Criterion 3.3 “Changes in policies, procedures, and program information are clearly and consistently communicated to students in a timely manner.” If there is a change in graduation policy, please ensure you have documentation regarding the change being approved (even if only a temporary change) and that students were notified of the change in a timely manner. Additionally, waiving the capstone course is not a substantive change.
NOTE per ACEN expectations, simulation cannot be the sole form of clinical experience obtained throughout an entire program of study and some state boards of nursing do not allow the use of simulation for clinical/practicum hours. We do not know what your state board of nursing does or does not allow. You should reach out to the state regulatory agency (e.g., Board of Nursing) regarding what that agency requires or may need from you, especially if consideration is being given to using distance education and simulation for clinical/practicum learning experiences. Make sure you have documentation that any adjustment is consistent with Criteria 4.8 and 4.9 and if a waiver was needed from your governing organization, the state (e.g., Board of Nursing), and the governing organization’s accrediting agency that you maintain documentation of the waiver.
Review the following definitions in the ACEN Glossary.
- Simulation: High-fidelity simulation, Mid-fidelity simulation, Low-fidelity simulation, and Virtual simulation
- Clinical/Practicum Learning Experiences
Review the Criteria following in the Standards and Criteria: 4.8 and 4.9