School of Nursing earns national CCNE accreditation; changes accreditation body

The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) received accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for its Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and post-master’s certificate programs for a five-year period through 2021.

“The CCNE accreditation signifies that Vanderbilt provides quality nursing education and that our graduates are educated in accordance with the highest national nursing standards,” said Dean Linda Norman, DSN, R.N., FAAN, the Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing. “It is outside validation that our continual pursuit of excellence in teaching, learning and innovation produces results.”

Since 1973, the VUSN masters’ programs have been continuously accredited by the National League for Nursing. In 1997, the NLN changed its name to the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, and then to the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Both agencies, CCNE and ACEN, are recognized as accrediting bodies for nursing and hold to exceptionally high standards.

Applying for the voluntary, self-regulatory accreditation involves months of preparation. VUSN produced a more than 220-page self-study accessing its strengths, standards, procedures, personnel and direction. The school then hosted a two-and-one-half-day site visit by CCNE examiners. The examiners met with university leaders, faculty, students and preceptors; visited clinical sites; evaluated on-site and online classes; and reviewed application materials.

The examiners evaluated VUSN’s program quality in regard to mission and governance, institutional commitment and resources, and curriculum and teaching-learning practices. They also looked at the effectiveness of the school’s programs in terms of program, student and faculty outcomes.

“A huge component of the accreditation process is self-assessment,” Norman said. “We were able to look at our program as it relates to the health care environment, and identify our strengths and areas for improvement.”

Just as important, she noted, the self-study process spotlighted the school’s accomplishments and opportunities. “It was good to look at our strengths — our student-focused environment, leadership in teaching technology, recognized and accomplished faculty, well-developed academic and clinical partnerships, and innovative research,” she said. “Too often we focus on what we want to accomplish and forget to celebrate what we’ve done.”