HOW MUCH DOES ACCREDITATION COST ISN’T THE RIGHT QUESTION

By Marcy Stoll | CEO | ACEN
Bridges, Volume XIII – Issue 3, August 2019

A common question is how much does it cost to have an ACEN accredited program? While the answer to that question is straightforward and easily answered by reviewing the ACEN fee schedule and illustration, the more important question is: what are the benefits of a nursing program being accredited with the ACEN?

When someone makes an investment they expect to profit from that investment. Profit is often expressed as a “return on investment,” which is commonly defined as the gain or loss generated on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. For example, you profit during your retirement from investments made in your retirement plan that grew over time. Students make an investment in their education (e.g., time, effort, payment of tuition/fees) to become a nurse. Institutions also make an investment (e.g., personnel, equipment, services, classrooms/laboratories) to educate students, which assists students to fulfill their goal of becoming a nurse and the institution to fulfill its mission and serve its communities.

Accreditation of a nursing program is another investment, which returns a gain to students, institutions, communities, and the nursing profession.

 

There are numerous benefits of accreditation

Students gain the maximum career and educational benefits of their nursing education by being a graduate from an accredited nursing program. Some examples include:

  • Accreditation benefits students’ ability to transfer credits. Think about your institution and nursing program. Does your institution or nursing program accept transfer credits from an unaccredited institution or nursing program?
  • Accreditation influences employers’ hiring decisions. Did you know that all branches of the United States military require nurses to be graduates of an accredited nursing program to work as a nurse in the military? The same is true for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and many other private and public employers that use accreditation as a consideration. Saying “we educate students for our local workforce” is shortsighted and a disservice to students.
  • Accreditation facilitates licensure in some states and certification by some organizations. The ACEN regularly receives telephone calls asking what the ACEN can do to help because the person did not graduate from an accredited nursing program and the state where the person wants to work as a nurse requires graduation from an accredited program to obtain a nursing license in that state. Unfortunately, the ACEN’s only response is that there is no solution as the caller did not graduate from an accredited program. Additionally, certifying bodies require graduation from an accredited program to take its certification examination such as the certification examinations for advanced practice nursing roles.
  • Accreditation facilitates academic progression. The ACEN regularly receives telephone calls asking what the ACEN can do to help because the person did not graduate from an accredited nursing program and the nursing program the person wants to attend requires “graduation from an accredited program” as an admission requirement. Unfortunately, the ACEN’s only response is that there is no solution as the caller did not graduate from an accredited program.
  • Accreditation enables students’ eligibility for funding support from federal agencies (e.g., Title IV, HRSA), as well as access to funding from private resources (e.g., foundations).

In summary, accreditation provides useful information for students’ career and education decision-making. Many students and their family members are aware of the benefits that accreditation offers, so they do make career and education decisions based on whether a nursing program is accredited.

Faculty and communities of interest benefit from accreditation. Accreditation means a nursing program periodically undergoes review by peers on the extent to which it meets its educational purpose and on the extent to which it meets standards of educational quality that were established by the peers in the nursing profession. Experience suggests as nursing faculty, we are very focused on educating students and don’t often take the time to intentionally reflect on what we are doing and why we are doing it. Accreditation encourages necessary and deliberate reflection, which heightens our awareness and administrators’ awareness about what is working and what could be improved.

Another benefit of ACEN accreditation and your most valuable resource is the ACEN professional staff. ACEN accreditation gives you access to these professionals. The professional staff are experienced nurse educators and nurse clinicians having served in a variety of faculty, clinician, and administrative roles throughout their career. These are colleagues who have walked in your shoes and the ACEN is the only nursing accrediting agency that offers you this resource.