What is accreditation and why is it important?
In layman’s terms, accreditation is a way of saying that an entity has been evaluated by peers, and has met established quality standards as determined by a group of peers. Accreditation happens in many fields and capacities, and there are many examples of accredited zoos, police departments, hospitals, plumbers, advocacy centers, farm managers, media outlets, and much more. Achieving accreditation tells the public that an entity meets industry expectations for quality, and consumers can have confidence that quality control checks have been carried out by a third party.
When peer evaluators perform what is termed a “site visit,” they are evaluating the entity (or in ACEN’s case, the program) based on a set of authoritative standards and criteria. Accrediting agencies typically have a number of standards with multiple criteria which help the peer evaluators understand expectations, and helps them to determine whether or not to recommend a program for accreditation. The standards and criteria for ACEN accreditation are publicly available, and undergo regular review to ensure that they reflect contemporary practice and meet the needs of the nursing profession and communities accreditation serves.
When a program is seeking initial or continuing accreditation by the ACEN, the ACEN Board of Commissioners makes the decision on whether or not to accredit the program. This decision is based on the program’s self-study report and the peer evaluators’ review. Regular re-accreditation processes facilities the adherence to the set standards and a continued level of excellence.