The Next ACEN Standards and Criteria: Volunteer Assignments

Written by Nell Ard, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, Director at the ACEN

In accordance with Policy #24 Assessment and Adequacy of Standards and Criteria, ACEN Processes, and Practices, the ACEN has begun the process of reviewing the 2017 ACEN Standards and Criteria. The review of the Standards and Criteria occurs every five years to ensure that the Standards and Criteria continue to be valid and reliable indicators of educational quality provided by accredited programs and that they are relevant to the educational needs of the students.

The process will be co-led by both the ACEN’s Chief Executive Officer, Marsal Stoll, who will co-chair the Steering Committee as the ACEN staff representative, and by Marilyn Smidt, MSN, RN. Ms. Schmidt has been an actively involved with the ACEN since 1994. She is from Grand Rapids, Michigan and taught in both associate and practical nursing programs. During her time with the ACEN, Ms. Schmidt has served as a peer evaluator, as an Evaluation Review Panel (ERP) member, and as a member of the Board of Commissioners. During her tenure with the ACEN, Ms. Schmidt has assisted the ACEN with previous reviews of the Standards and Criteria. While Dr. Stoll and Ms. Schmidt will co-chair the Steering Committee, there will also be team leads dedicated to reviewing certain areas of the Standards and Criteria. Each team has one or two members of the Board of Commissioners and the ACEN Directors serving as co-leaders for each team.

The overall process toward achieving the 2023 iteration of the ACEN Standards and Criteria began with a call for volunteers in April 2021. The ACEN received over 100 applicants interested in assisting with the review process. Three teams have been formed to review the six Standards; the Standards have been grouped with Standards 1 and 2, Standards 3 and 5, and Standards 4 and 6. Volunteers were placed on the respective teams to ensure that each group was composed of relevant constituents. Each team has a representation of both graduate and undergraduate nursing programs across all six program types. Each group also has a nurse clinician, a public member, and a student. In addition to ensuring that each program type had representation, the ACEN wanted to ensure that the various groups had a broad geographic representation of programs. The table below provides a list of the volunteers who will be assisting with this initial component of the review process.

The various teams met August 13‒14, 2021 to begin the process. Each team will be meeting virtually each month to continue their review. During the review process, potential changes will be recommended for the Standards and Criteria.

The teams will have a proposed draft of the 2023 Standards and Criteria available for public comments during Spring 2022; all interested parties will have two 30-day public comment periods to provide feedback on any potential proposed changes. All public comments will be considered with each of the public comment periods.

A final draft of the 2023 Standard and Criteria will then be sent to the Accreditation Standards and Criteria Committee of the Board of Commissioners. This committee will review the final draft and make recommendations to the overall ACEN Board of Commissioners at the July 2022 meeting. When the 2023 Standards and Criteria are approved by the Board of Commissioners, the ACEN will begin the transition process. Programs will have the option in 2023 to use the new 2023 Standards and Criteria or continue to use the 2017 Standards and Criteria. Beginning January 1, 2024, all ACEN-accredited programs and programs seeking candidacy and accreditation with the ACEN will be required to use the 2023 ACEN Standards and Criteria.

Please be looking for announcements regarding your opportunity to participate in the Standards and Criteria review process by providing public comments in Spring 2022!