Not all nursing schools are created equal. In advertising the different advantages they offer students, they'll talk about cost, convenience and curriculum. Many of them market directly to RNs who want to go back to school to earn a BSN degree, as more and more healthcare employers are requiring their nurses to hold a four-year degree. For nurses with a number of viable options — especially with online RN to BSN programs widening the field — it can be challenging to settle on just the right one.
If you're a nurse considering a bachelor's degree program, the first thing to check is a school's accreditation. Employers want to make sure that the training nurses receive will prepare them for the challenges of healthcare, and accreditation is the gold standard for nursing education. It's also important to student loan providers; Nursing CAS notes that students attending unaccredited institutions may not be eligible for federal financial aid.
As U.S. News & World Report's Jordan Friedman explains in a recent article, the two accrediting bodies for nursing education are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Austin Peay State University's online RN to BSN program is ACEN-accredited. Friedman notes, "ACEN typically reviews whether faculty are trained to teach online and the ways learners and professors interact virtually." He points out that students can expect the online education from an ACEN-approved school to be as thorough and well-regarded as what they might receive in an on-campus program.
As ACEN points out on its website, the process of accreditation ensures that a nursing school meets a uniform set of standards that measure a school's overall quality. The accreditation process provides a pathway for administrators and faculty members to continually improve by making them aware of areas that need work as well as the areas in which they're performing well.
The ACEN site notes a number of other benefits that come with accreditation. Some have to do with the networks that nursing schools establish with state licensing agencies and other nursing schools -- a student earning a degree from an accredited undergraduate school is better prepared for the workplace or for entry into an accredited graduate school than a student from an unaccredited school.
ACEN accreditation is a voluntary, peer-review process geared toward improving nursing education, with people who are knowledgeable and passionate about nursing education overseeing the review, and participating schools being open to receiving feedback. Schools that hold accreditation are typically re-evaluated every few years to ensure ongoing compliance with standards.
To receive the best education that is also professionally viable, a nursing student will want to choose exclusively from accredited schools. Participation in the ACEN accreditation process shows Austin Peay State University's commitment to meeting the education needs of nurses who seek a quality RN to BSN program.
Learn more about Austin Peay State University's online RN to BSN program.
Sources:ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing): Benefits of Accreditation
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