When searching for a nursing school, there are many options to consider in terms of the level of education available at each school, any specialties or certifications offered, how well the schools prepare potential nurses for the NCLEX exam and how the school is accredited. A nursing school accreditation can apply to colleges, universities and a multitude of online nursing programs.
Nursing schools are accredited for several reasons. In order to be recognized as an educational environment that provides curriculum and information to students, standards of quality set must be met. These accreditations assure the student that the academic environment is nationally recognized and can help the nursing student compete for jobs upon graduation. If a student transfers from one nursing school to another, only the hours earned at an accredited institution will be accepted by another accredited institution. Furthermore, federal aid is only awarded to schools that are accredited by one of the two nationally-recognized agencies for nursing education: CCNE and NLNAC.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is a nationally-recognized agency established in 1996 by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). This agency provides accreditation to both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) also provides accreditation to undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, as well as post-secondary and advanced nursing programs, diplomas and certificates. Both of these agencies provide the basic accreditation needed to establish the academic value of the nursing programs within the college, university or online nursing program.
In addition, the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) provides accreditation for specific post-graduate studies in nurse-midwifery, ensuring the highest level of instruction available to these specialized nurses. Likewise, the Council of Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) accredits post-graduate nurse anesthesia programs across the country, providing strict standards for those entering the field of nurse anesthesia.
Many colleges, universities and online nursing programs also offer specialized curriculum, training and instruction to assist nursing students with the NCLEX examination. In order for a college, university or online nursing program to offer this instruction, it must be board-certified by the state that offers the program. A national accreditation and a state board certification are different honors for a nursing program or school, and it is always advised that students know the local and state laws pertaining to nursing certifications before selecting a college, university or online nursing program.
Nursing school accreditation helps ensure the quality of the education provided and that the curriculum meets or exceeds standards set by national organizations. These accreditations provide assurance to the student and employer that the education received is comprehensive and inclusive, ultimately benefiting the patients to which these nurses provide treatment and care.