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ACEN National Nurses Week 2024 - Nursing Education Spotlight

May 7, 2024
National Nurses Week is a time to celebrate the critical role that nurses play in healthcare, but it is also an opportunity to highlight the importance of nurse educators.

National Nurses Week is a time to celebrate the critical role that nurses play in healthcare, but it is also an opportunity to highlight the importance of nurse educators. Nurse educators are essential in shaping the future of nursing by providing high-quality education and training to aspiring nurses. They not only impart clinical skills and knowledge but also instill professionalism, compassion, and critical thinking in their students. Nurse educators serve as mentors, role models, and guides for the next generation of nurses, helping to ensure that they are well-prepared to meet the challenges of modern healthcare. As we recognize National Nurses Week, the ACEN would like to recognize and highlight nurse educators with significant service to the ACEN and some of our longest operating ACEN-accredited nursing programs.

Nurse Educators

Elizabeth Mahaffey

Elizabeth “Libby” Mahaffey, PhD, RN, FAADN

Elizabeth “Libby” Mahaffey, PhD, RN, FAADN is the inaugural recipient of the ACEN Lifetime Achievement award in 2018 and the retired Dean for Nursing and Allied Health at Hinds Community College. She has influenced nursing education at the local, state, and national levels.  Dr. Mahaffey served on the ACEN Board of Commissioners from 2006-2012 and was the chair of the Board from 2008-2012. She was also a member of the National State Boards of Nursing, Practice, Education, Regulation and Congruence Task Force; Sigma Theta Tau, Nursing Practice and Education Consortium; Chair of the Mississippi Council of Deans and Directors of Schools of Nursing; President of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing, as well as numerous other positions. Throughout her career, Dr. Mahaffey fostered a shared governance model that includes the leadership of all health-related programs, administration, and support services.

Marilyn Smidt

Marilyn Smidt, MSN, RN

Marilyn Smidt, MSN, RN was awarded the ACEN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023 and is the retired Director of Nursing at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC). When Marilyn graduated from Michigan State University in 1969, she was among a minority of nurses who held a degree in nursing. Following graduation, Marilyn served as a nurse in the US Army for three years, and after her active service, she used the GI Bill to earn an MSN from Wayne State University. During her time at GRCC, Ms. Smidt became better acquainted with nursing accreditation and served in various roles with the ACEN. Ms. Smidt has been a peer evaluator since 1994 and was a member of the Board of Commissioners from 2002-2008. Ms. Smidt also served in the significant role of Chair of the ACEN Standards and Criteria Committee from 2005-2023, through which she helped promote educational quality in each set of Standards and Criteria, including those for Transition-to-Practice program accreditation.

Nursing Education Programs

St. Luke’s Hospital of Bethlehem

St. Luke's graduates from 1896

St. Luke’s School of Nursing1 is oldest nursing school in continuous operation in the U.S. Nine students formed the first class in 1884. During the first three decades of the 20th century, the school became notably recognized, and during World War II, St. Luke’s School of Nursing was approved for the Cadet Nurse Corps program. In 1962, the school was awarded initial accreditation ACEN (formerly the National League for Nursing [NLN]).

Hackensack Meridian Health, Inc - JFK Medical Center Muhlenberg Harold B. And Dorothy A. Snyder School of Nursing

School of Nursing at Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center

In 1894, the School of Nursing was established at the Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center2. The diploma nursing program became ACEN (formerly NLN) accredited in 1948. In 1971, an affiliation with Union College was established, and graduates were awarded a Diploma in Nursing and an Associate Degree in Science from Union College. The program graduates an average of 70-80 students annually.

Roxborough Memorial Hospital School of Nursing

Roxborough Memorial Hospital School of Nursing Class of 1979

The School of Nursing was founded in 1898 and graduated five women in 19013. Since that time, the school has graduated over 2,000 men and women. The diploma program was awarded initial accreditation by the ACEN (formerly NLN) in 1976.

Wagner College Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing

Wagner College nursing graduates in September 1956

The school’s founding dean, Mary Delia Burr, wanted nursing students to have a more well-rounded education outside of the medical field, and so the baccalaureate nursing program at Wagner College was founded in 19434. ACEN (formerly NLN) accreditation was awarded to the program in 1950. Today, Wagner College offers multiple baccalaureate, master’s, and clinical doctorate degrees and nursing program options.


Nurses Week provides a platform to showcase the success stories of nurse educators who have made a profound impact on their students and the healthcare industry. By highlighting their achievements and contributions, we honor their commitment to excellence and innovation.

Thank you nurse educators! You rock!