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ACEN Definition of Quality for Transition-to-Practice Programs

The core values of accreditation emphasize learning, community, responsibility, integrity, value, quality, and continuous improvement through self-evaluation, analysis, and reflection.

Peer review is a long-established and effective process that promotes effective transition-to-practice by embracing quality assurance, quality improvement, and establishment of quality standards to assist transition-to-practice programs to become stronger, better, and more effective. As implemented by the ACEN, the accreditation processes for transition-to-practice programs help determine which programs meet established standards and criteria for quality in transition-to-practice programs. The ACEN peer evaluators are familiar with contemporary practices in various transition-to-practice program types and receive training from the ACEN to make informed recommendations about a transition-to-practice program’s compliance with the ACEN Transition-to-Practice Standards and Criteria.

Quality in transition-to-practice programs facilitates professional development and successful transitions in the profession of nursing, and it supports positive outcomes for the people that healthcare agencies serve. Accreditation is an affirmation of values central to professional development, including being mission-driven, effective and efficient organizational structures, curriculum development, peer evaluation, and continuous improvement.

The ACEN accredits all types of transition-to-practice programs offered in a variety of clinical practice and academic settings. Transition-to-practice program types include but are not limited to those for the newly licensed nurse (initial or at a new level of licensure), the nurse who is re-entering the profession, and the nurse who is transitioning to a new nursing role/responsibilities at the same level of licensure within an organization. Transition-to-practice program options include all levels of nursing licensure, including advanced practice, registered nursing, and practical nursing.

Understanding Standards and Criteria in the Evaluation of Transition-to-Practice programs

Transition-to-practice programs are designed to facilitate nurse residents’ development of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors necessary for professional nursing practice and successful transitions in nursing practice within the level of licensure, including new licensure, re-entry to nursing practice, or new practice roles. Transition-to-practice programs are developed in order to meet the needs of the sponsoring organization, healthcare in the local community, and the nurse during a time of transition. The Standards and Criteria provide a framework for the transition-to-practice program to ensure that the program is well-organized, current, and effective.

Standard – Agreed-upon expectations to measure quantity, extent, value, and educational quality.

Criteria – Statements that identify the elements that need to be examined in evaluation of a Standard.

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