The ACEN Accredits Nursing Programs in Kuwait for the First Time
Written by: Carole Grady, EdD, WHNP-BC, CNE
Retired Nursing Director, Utah State University
The ACEN has accredited international nursing programs since 2000. Currently, these ACEN-accredited international programs are located in Colombia, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, and Turkey as well as in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. I had the privilege of serving as a member of a virtual site visit team for the initial accreditation review of the baccalaureate and associate nursing programs at the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) in Shuwaikh, Kuwait. An associate nursing program had been in place at PAAET since 1974; in 2002, the PAAET College of Nursing was established with the addition of a baccalaureate nursing program. Expansion of the PAAET nursing programs was undertaken to respond to Kuwaiti workforce needs and increase the number of Kuwaiti nationals in the nursing workforce. According to the PAAET nursing faculty interviewed by the team, only 10% of nurses employed in Kuwait are Kuwaiti nationals, while the overall Kuwait citizen population is made up of 70% expatriates and 30% Kuwaiti nationals.
A site visit to PAAET was initially scheduled for February 2020. However, the day before the team was to begin its travels to Kuwait, we received notification that the Kuwaiti Ministry of Higher Education had closed all institutions of higher learning in Kuwait in response to the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic. The visit was rescheduled for April 2020, but as it became apparent the COVID-19 pandemic was not going away, it was delayed until the Fall 2020 cycle. The baccalaureate and associate programs had a virtual site visit in October 2020, which took place while the ACEN worked 100% remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Commissioners granted initial accreditation to the programs during their March 2021 meeting. While the programs are subject to a future verification visit because the Fall 2020 visit was virtual, this does not affect their accreditation status.
The virtual site visit team was made up of two peer evaluators from the U.S., a peer evaluator from the Sultanate of Oman, and an ACEN Director. As well as the usual preparations for a virtual accreditation site visit, the team had to plan for the differences in time zone between Kuwait and the evaluators’ locations. For example, my virtual site visit days began at 4:00 a.m. MST. The PAAET considerately scheduled the beginning of the site visit days to mid-morning Kuwaiti time to accommodate the time zone differences. Another unique aspect of the virtual site visit was the availability of some evidentiary documents in only Arabic. The team found the most straightforward method to review these documents was to meet virtually with a PAAET English- and Arabic-speaking staff member, who verbally translated the documents as a team member reviewed them, as well as utilizing our team member from the Sultanate of Oman, who spoke and read both English and Arabic.
Any nursing program, whether domestic or international, undergoing an ACEN accreditation review may demonstrate compliance with the six ACEN standards in diverse ways—or perhaps some criteria may not be applicable. For instance, Kuwait nursing graduates are not required to take a licensure examination but are required to complete an application procedure for licensure through the Ministry of Health. Similarly, general education courses included in the PAAET nursing curricula in support of nursing courses include remedial English for some students. As the associate and baccalaureate programs are offered in English, students are required to take an English placement test. If they do not meet minimum requirements on the placement test, students complete a remedial non-credit English course during their first semester. All students are expected to progress through the associate and baccalaureate programs in the same manner. However, male and female students are separated according to gender for class, skills laboratory, simulation, and clinical training; students are also most often taught by faculty of the same gender as the student group.
The ACEN congratulates PAAET on its achievement as the first nursing programs in Kuwait to attain ACEN accreditation. The ACEN looks forward to both the verification visit and the next continuing accreditation visit, which will be in Fall 2025. I envy the future team who will be able to meet face-to-face the welcoming and gracious PAAET administrators, faculty, and staff that I met virtually—and of course, the students, who like most nursing students everywhere, chose to enter the PAAET programs to make a difference in others’ lives by becoming a nurse.
Carole Grady, EdD, WHNP-BC, CNE
Retired Nursing Director, Utah State University
Grady can be reached at [email protected].