The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is an independent nursing education accrediting organization that is officially recognized by the Department of Education. The Commission's goal is to recognize academic providers of quality nursing programs.

A Quick Overview

The CCNE is a specialized accrediting agency that provides professional standards aimed at increasing the quality and integrity of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree nursing programs. They focus on graduate programs that award advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) certificates and doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees. They also accredit post-baccalaureate nursing residency programs. The Commission protects public health and the public interest by assessing and endorsing programs that stimulate effective educational practices, self-regulatory process and continuous quality improvement programs. Although accreditation is voluntary, programs that receive the Commissions' stamp of approval assure good educational practices and competent nurse graduates.

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How Accreditation Works

The accreditation process is actually quite simple. New schools or programs must have been operating for at least a year to be considered. The Commission sends rigorous self-examination documentation that requires deans and administrators to carefully evaluate curriculum, teacher development, program guidelines and support systems. This internal audit process involves faculty, students and many others. When finished, this documentation is submitted to the Commission, which then schedules an on-site visit that is conducted by a team of evaluators and specialists. During this visit, the Commission's employees speak with staff and students to verify their program and support systems. As a result, actionable recommendations are then issued to the applying school or program, which must go through the accreditation process every five or 10 years.

The Purposes of Accreditation

There are different purposes of the accreditation process. First, the Commission holds nursing programs accountable to many parties of interest, such as students, employers, health care consumers and society as a whole. This is accomplished through ensuring that all programs share similar goals, missions and measured outcomes that prepare students to faithfully fulfill their expected roles. Second, continual re-accreditation allows the Commission to statistically evaluate the success of individual nursing programs and student outcomes. Third, accreditation officially informs the public and employers of programs that meet standards. Fourth, accreditation fosters continual quality improvement efforts. Fifth, accreditation fosters innovation, faculty engagement and educational environments that support students.

How Accreditation Benefits Nursing Students

Accredited schools and programs demonstrate that their curriculum meets high standards and objective that have been set by the accrediting agency. Nursing schools must prove that their program's curriculum allows students to meet or exceed all learning and competency objectives. Accrediting agencies ensure that there are support systems in place to help students, such as library, academic counseling and financial aid services. Nursing students who graduate from a program that has been approved by the Commission will demonstrate to employers and health care consumers that their skills and knowledge meet high standards.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) sets strict student achievement metrics for accredited programs. For example, the completion rate for graduates should be at least 70 percent, the NCLEX-RN and certification pass rates should be approximately 80 percent and the employment rate for graduates should be around 70 percent.

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