Taking the next step in your nursing career isn’t always easy. You need a clear plan with measurable goals and outcomes to know when you hit them. Still, accreditation is essential to verify that any nursing course meets specific quality standards. Accreditation involves certification of both educational standards and the course content.
In short, accreditation is a third-party verification that a given school meets specific standards for quality and content. It ensures that students trust that these schools provide a certain caliber of education. It also lets potential employers know you’re qualified to do the job. Depending on your career path, this may or may not be something you should consider as you explore how online nursing programs work. So, let’s dive into nursing school accreditations and why they matter.
Why employers want accredited programs
Nursing employers want to hire qualified people to do the job. By hiring someone who completed an accredited nursing program, they know that this person has the skills and expertise required. As we know, medicine requires people who know the topic well. The reason for this is simple: people’s health and wellness are on the line. Additionally, with accredited programs, employers see that the individual completed a program at a trustworthy school.
In medicine, employers need to know that you’re qualified for the job. Moreover, they want to trust that you received a quality education while earning your degree. To do this, they want to know that you completed a program verified as worth the time and money. In the case of accredited nursing programs, employers want to know that a third-party organization confirms that the school where you completed your degree provides quality education.
Why accreditation provides legitimacy
Many schools teach legitimate courses, but not all have the same level of trustworthiness as accredited schools. In sum, accreditation is a process that third-party organizations use to verify standards for academic excellence. They also demonstrate the quality of instruction and overall operations. In the accreditation process, verifiers meet with the school. For one, they review the content and material of the programs.
As many employers require specific certifications before hiring, accreditation adds to employee credentialing. Additionally, accreditation verifies that a given school teaches legitimate courses likely to lead to employment within the nursing field. Ultimately, employers obtain proof of course completion from a trustworthy school. They learn that you received your nurse education through a legitimate educational institution.
To verify an accrediting body’s legitimacy, you can refer to a site such as the US Department of Education’s list of recognized accreditation bodies. Doing so tells you that the school is recognized by bodies approved by the government and is, therefore, legitimate.
What to look for when choosing a nursing course
As you see, accreditation is vital. However, it’s one aspect of evaluating a school as you pursue a nursing career path. Accreditation is one aspect, but others exist. So, it would help to consider several factors when choosing the right nursing program. For example, determine your current skill set and any gaps you would like to fill. You also want to consider how much time you can dedicate to your studies. Also, you should know if you’re going to study in a traditional setting or online. Let’s explore some things for consideration.
1. Research the school
The first step to finding the right school for you is to conduct research. It’s essential as it helps you find the best nursing schools in your area. You can use different resources to research the best schools. For instance, you could look at online nursing school rankings or reviews. Another thing to remember when researching nursing programs is the program’s length. Nursing programs in the US can last from about two years to more than five. In short, it depends on your degree and experience.
2. Type of program
You can select from many nursing programs, including an associate’s, bachelor’s, or masters. The type of program you choose depends on your educational background and career goals. Associate’s degree programs are a good fit for those wanting to enter the nursing field quickly. Bachelor’s degree programs take more time and effort to complete. However, they help you get promoted faster or earn more money. Master’s degree programs are for students who have a BSN and want to specialize in a particular field. Also, it’s a program for people who may wish to enter academia or serve in management.
3. Reputation of the school
Another important consideration when choosing a nursing school is its reputation. You can determine this by looking at the school’s history, graduation, and employment rates. Also, you want to see its average tuition costs and any notable alumni from the school. In short, this research gives you a better idea of the school’s reputation and if it’s the right fit. Another vital aspect to consider when determining the school’s reputation is if it is accredited. Most nursing schools should be certified by a recognized and specific accreditation body. In addition to accreditation, check whether your state’s nursing board approves the school. Doing so tells you if the school’s nursing program meets the state’s educational requirements.
4. Location of the school
Another vital factor to consider when choosing a nursing school is its location. This is especially important if you work full-time and need to get around. Remember, finding a school close to home helps reduce travel time to campus. Of course, many excellent online nursing programs also exist. You can even earn a degree from online schools and institutions. Again, however, everything depends on the school’s reputation and accreditation. The old days of having to go to campus physically are over. You could do so, but you could also study online or in a hybrid manner.
5. Accreditation of the nursing program
As discussed, accreditation is essential to choosing the best nursing school. In sum, knowing the certification and reputation of the specific nursing program is vital. As a result, it will help you understand how effective and trusted the program is and if it will lead you to a successful career as a nurse. The more reputable the nursing program, the more likely it will lead to career success as a nurse. So, don’t miss this critical step.
How to find out which accreditations are relevant to you
Now, let’s get back to accreditation. How do you find out the relevant ones? First, you must decide what nursing degree program and specialization you want to pursue. You then have to find out which accreditations apply to that program. It’s also worth noting that the length of time that a nursing course is in operation impacts the value of accreditation. For instance, a relatively new school may not have the certification you or your employers want. So, finding the accrediting bodies that certify the programs you want to consider is crucial. Moreover, you want to ensure accreditation for your state.
What are the different types of accreditation?
In the US, two types of accreditation exist for nursing institutions. The first is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The second is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Depending on which school or institution you would like to attend, you should ensure its accreditation with one of these governing bodies. As we know, medicine is a career focusing on health and wellness for people. So, it’s vital to ensure that you attend a school that meets proper accreditation. In doing so, you guarantee quality regarding the following:
- Academic rigor and quality
- Quality of the faculty and administration
- Obtaining a degree from your selected institution qualifies for nursing licensure.
Accreditation bodies for education in nursing
As mentioned, ACEN is one of the most well-known and reputable accreditation boards. It’s one of the largest nursing accreditation boards in the world. It oversees many nursing schools and programs in the US. Furthermore, it’s one of the most widely recognized accreditation boards. And it’s got some of the most comprehensive requirements for nursing programs.
The CCNE is also a leader in accreditation for nursing in the US. It aims to improve public health. Moreover, it seeks to ensure the quality of degree programs, including bachelor’s, master’s, and other nursing programs. Ultimately, the CCNE and ACEN aim to keep schools and educational programs adhering to the highest levels of professionalism.
As a result, the schools under the ACEN or CCNE’s accreditations are the most valuable. They will likely lead to employment and advancement in your nursing career. Both bodies offer stringent requirements that nursing schools must meet to get accredited. For instance, it could include holding at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Or, it may involve having a sizable amount of clinical practice and experience. In addition, schools may have to prove that they have the facilities and faculty necessary to provide a high-quality education. For more information, look at each body’s accreditation methods.
Healthcare is a fast-growing field.
As you know, there’s a high demand for healthcare services worldwide. This means a growing demand for healthcare workers, including nurses. As populations grow and age, there’s a need for more healthcare services. Furthermore, as technology and innovations evolve, it creates more opportunities for those in nursing. Today’s healthcare careers require specialized skills from healthcare workers. As a result, a nursing career has much growth potential.
As a nurse, you can make a difference in people’s daily lives. If you’re reading this article, then the chances are that you’re exploring nursing. A nursing career often comes with excellent job stability and potential for growth. Moreover, it offers an opportunity to help others daily. Furthermore, nurses tend to earn above-average incomes and have high employment rates. For example, depending on experience and education, you may even make a salary in the six-figure range.
Additionally, there’s a lot of room for career advancement in nursing. While many nurses become registered nurses (RNs), many other nursing careers exist. For example, you could start as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and then choose to become an RN. From there, you could move into administration and management. Nursing is not a career with a rigid, singular path. So, exploring your options is an excellent idea for this diverse field.
The educational path to a successful nursing career
Beyond the financial aspects of a nursing career, many benefits come with this path. Nursing allows you to make a difference in the lives of others. You assist people who need it and give them the care they need. Ultimately, your job is to care for people, some of whom may not be able to care for themselves. Nurses also have the chance to work in many different environments. So they could work in hospitals or private practices. You can choose to work in whatever setting best suits you. In addition to helping patients, nurses always learn new things and advance their knowledge through continuing education. This allows you to keep up with the latest medical advancements and treatments.
Finally, as you consider a nursing program to complete, select one from an accredited school or institution. Doing so lets you know that the program meets specific standards of quality. Moreover, it maximizes and helps secure the time and money you spend obtaining your degree. As discussed, accreditation also lets potential employers know that you’re qualified to do the job. When you move toward licensing, you’ll see you have a degree from an accredited institution. Nursing programs can provide an excellent path for nurses looking for rewarding careers. They also help nurses who want to expand their skill set. So, choosing an accredited program enables you to stand out to potential employers and provide the tools for success in your chosen field.