Nursing School Accreditation

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In short, accreditation indicates that a nursing school has been evaluated and shown to meet certain academic and professional criteria. When a school meets or exceeds these criteria, they are then able to receive accreditation approval.

There are two national organizations that provide nursing school and program accreditation. These include, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). While there are a number of good nursing programs that are not accredited by these organizations, the benefits of earning your degree from an accredited institution are the following:

  • You will be qualified to attend another accredited school of nursing if you decided to transfer programs, or should you be interested in pursuing an advanced degree, for example an RN-to-BSN or Master’s degree in nursing. If you earn your degree from a non-accredited school you may not be able to earn an advanced degree at the school of your choice down the road.
  • There are several academic and merit-based scholarships for nursing students that are only available if you’re attending an accredited nursing program.
  • If you earn your degree from an accredited nursing school allows you to apply for financial aid from the federal government. Because a school’s qualifications have met certain quality standards, the government is more confident that you’ll be successful.
  • Many employers feel more comfortable hiring nurses that have earned their degree at an accredited program. Nurses from accredited programs are trained under nationally recognized standards and thus employers know what education and skills they can expect from you upon graduation. Earning a degree from an accredited school can make the job hunt a bit easier.

In addition to national accreditation organizations, for certain nursing programs, there are other organizations that will accredit them. For example, The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) accredits nurse anesthesia programs at the certificate, master’s and doctoral degree levels. And The American College of Nurse-Midwives Division of Accreditation (ACNM) accredits midwifery education programs.

It’s important to recognize that just because a nursing school is approved by a state board of nursing does not mean they are accredited. When a nursing program is accredited, it means that the school’s programs and courses have been evaluated for their relevance by the accrediting committee. Being approved by the state simply indicates that the schools is licensed to train nurses to site for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX) for that particular state. (The NCLEX is an examination that has been developed to test a candidate’s competence in the profession of nursing before practicing. It is required before receiving licensure as a Registered Nurse.)

You can check to see if a nursing school or program is accredited by the NLNAC by going to the school’s admission office or recruiting website. A nursing school’s accreditation is granted for a specific period of time. Before attending, you’ll want to determine the length of time for which your school is accredited. A nursing program will have to be reviewed by several accreditation committees as their accreditation expires to ensure that education standards are consistent and maintained.

The truth is, you may still receive a quality nursing education from a non-accredited nursing school, but there are going to be several benefits from earning your degree at an accredited school.