TOP 10 WAYS TO ENGAGE FACULTY IN THE ACCREDITATION PROCESS!

By Suzette Farmer, PhD, RN | Director | ACEN
Bridges, Volume XIII – Issue 4, November 2019

Ever wondered how to engage faculty in the accreditation process? Read this article to see the Top 10 strategies for engaging faculty and ensuring program success during your next accreditation site visit!

 

Live accreditation every day—be visit-ready all the time. Create a culture where accreditation is not a dirty word!! For example, use ACEN terminology during meetings…make accreditation processes “normal” and familiar in your daily work as a nurse educator.

 

Appreciate and acknowledge how accreditation can help you be a better faculty member and a better program. As you become more familiar with the Standards and Criteria, you will recognize how curriculum (Standard 4) flows into outcomes (Standard 6); and soon, you will see how the ACEN’s emphasis on student learning and the end-of-program student learning outcomes can help you be a better and more effective nurse educator.

 

Use the Standards and Criteria as a framework for orienting new faculty. Don’t wait to introduce new faculty to accreditation and the ACEN Standards and Criteria. Once again, the emphasis on faculty qualifications and development, students and student learning, resources needed for program development and maintenance, the development and delivery of a curriculum designed to help graduates practice in a contemporary environment, and a focus on the achievement of end-of-program student learning outcomes and program outcomes will provide new nurse educators with a framework that will support them throughout their career in nursing education.

 

Keep it simple, don’t overthink the accreditation process. The Standards and Criteria are simply statements of good educational and academic practice. The Standards and Criteria are designed to help programs achieve and maintain quality…they are indicators of quality as determined by your nurse faculty peers. A program that is in compliance with the Standards and Criteria is not jumping through hoops; they are intentionally doing the “right thing” for their students and the profession!

 

Consider taking advantage of optional services offered by the ACEN, such a being an Observer on a site visit team or taking advantage of an Advisory Review. These optional services can help you be more familiar with the accreditation process and the activities of the site visit team (Observer); or, they can help you and your faculty develop a deeper understanding of selected Standards within the specific context of your program (Advisory Review).

 

Share accountability for maintaining accreditation readiness. The nurse administrator is not an island. When the work of accreditation is distributed among the faculty, everyone—including the students—benefits. Sharing accountability helps ensure the program is always ready for a visit, and it can help minimize the chaos that sometimes occurs before an accreditation visit. It also provides a means for faculty to provide service to the program and develop leadership skills!

 

Develop knowledge about and understanding of the Standards and Criteria. Don’t believe “urban legends” about accreditation—find out for yourself! Many people believe things about accreditation that simply are not true, such as the myth that you have to have a graduating class before you can be accredited (which isn’t true). Study the Standards and Criteria, review ACEN policies, and ask questions! The ACEN is here to be your supportive partner in the accreditation journey.

 

Nurse administrators should listen to faculty and be open to their ideas, learn to appreciate their creativity, and be willing to take a few risks when faculty suggest new ways of doing things. If we want to prepare our students for a dynamic healthcare environment, we need to be willing to make our nursing education programs more dynamic and move beyond “the way we’ve always done it” mentality. Don’t be afraid to try new approaches and be sure to give them some time to work! Celebrate innovation.

 

Encourage faculty to become peer evaluators for the ACEN and provide support for them to participate in site visits. Being a peer evaluator is an effective way to increase knowledge of the Standards and Criteria, learn from peers serving with you on the site visit team, and learn from the programs you visit. Dr. Sharon Beasley’s article will provide you more information about how becoming a peer evaluator benefits the program and the individual faculty member.

 

Send faculty members to an ACEN Self-Study Forum! Self-Study Forums are held 2‒3 times a year in locations across the country. It’s an opportunity for attendees to interact with other nurse educators and the ACEN Directors….all while developing a deeper understanding of the Standards and Criteria. We hope to see you soon!