Advisory Review: Intensive Support. Extensive Assistance
by Keri Nunn-Ellison, EdD, MSNEd, RN, CNE
May 20, 2021
The ACEN is committed to being a supportive partner for accreditation. To help faculty smoothly navigate the process and achieve their accreditation goals, the ACEN offers a variety of resources, such as forums, workshops, eCourses, and website resources (including guidelines and templates). Additionally, ACEN Directors are available by email or phone to handle any questions about the accreditation process and to answer general questions about the ACEN Standards and Criteria, policies, or procedures. For programs seeking more in-depth support, the ACEN also offers an Advisory Review option.
An Advisory Review is an opportunity for faculty and administrators, who are preparing for an accreditation site visit, to receive more extensive support and comprehensive feedback from an ACEN Director. This support is intended to assist the program’s faculty and administrators with individual program needs, which may include but are not limited to, the accreditation process, the 2017 ACEN Standards and Criteria, and/or a review of select draft accreditation documents (e.g., SSR, faculty profile table, SPE).
An Advisory Review is 100% optional for currently accredited programs and is not required for continuing accreditation. When a request for an Advisory Review is received, the assigned ACEN Director will work with the program’s nurse administrator and/or designee to determine the program’s specific needs. For example, one of the most common review types is for a particular Standard (usually Standard 4 or Standard 6) or a customized hybrid of select criteria in both Standards. For this type of review, the program will supply the ACEN Director with a copy of the draft narrative for the Standard being reviewed (e.g., Criteria 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, and 6.4) along with any supporting evidence (e.g., systematic plans of evaluation [SPEs], rubrics, meeting minutes). Typically, this type of review occurs 6–12 months before the scheduled site visit when the faculty have begun to assemble their draft narrative and evidence. The ACEN Director will review these materials and provide written feedback to the program. Then, during a pre-agreed upon meeting time, the ACEN Director will engage with the program faculty to discuss the feedback. This review time, which typically lasts 2–4 hours, provides an opportunity for program faculty and administrators to speak directly with the ACEN Director and receive detailed feedback that is relevant and specific to their program. This is also a great opportunity for faculty and administrators to ask questions or clarify information. It is important to note that the ACEN Director’s feedback should be considered as their best judgment regarding the review materials, not as a guarantee that the Board of Commissioners will determine that it complies with ACEN Standards and Criteria.
Advisory Reviews may also be used when faculty need more guidance on the interpretation of specific Standards, curriculum development, creating an SPE, or a general presentation of the accreditation process for a program with new faculty and/or administrators who may not have previously participated in an accreditation visit. Ideally, these types of Advisory Reviews take place 2–3 years before a scheduled site visit. These examples are not exhaustive. There is flexibility within the Advisory Review request, and the ACEN Directors will work with a program at any point in their accreditation process to provide the individual support and guidance their program needs.
Advisory Reviews are typically conducted through videoconferencing, though in-person reviews may be approved on a case-by-case basis. Please note that a face-to-face Advisory Review is not a mock visit, though like videoconferencing reviews, it is customized to the program’s needs. To schedule an Advisory Review, the nurse administrator must complete the online Request for Advisory Review Form. The nurse administrator will be contacted by an ACEN Director to discuss the request and the process. The fee for an Advisory Review varies depending upon whether the program elects to have a videoconference or an in-person review (ACEN Fee Schedule). Fees include the assigned ACEN Director’s preparation time as well as the meeting with the program faculty and administrators. Again, an Advisory Review is an optional resource, and fees are only charged if the service is requested and performed. The fee for a videoconference Advisory Review is $1,000 for a single review, while the fee for an onsite Advisory Review is $3,000. It is important to note that fees for an in-person review do not include travel expenses (e.g., travel, food, lodging, etc.), which are invoiced separately. An additional program type within the same nursing education unit may be added to the review for $500 each.
Evaluations received from programs that have participated in an Advisory Review are overwhelmingly positive. Evaluations show that the Advisory Review provided faculty and administrators with an informal yet personal experience where they can connect with the ACEN, improve their understanding of ACEN accreditation, better see alignment between their own program and the ACEN Standards and Criteria, and more clearly describe their program in the Self-Study Report.