According to the experts, it is important that online nursing programs maintain the same standards as those acquired via the university route. When doing research on the availability of different online nursing programs, applicants should know that finding one that is accredited is key. It ensures that the validity of a program has been assessed by an impartial agency recognized by the Department of Education, about its quality and detail. Therefore, students should initially check that a nursing program is accredited by either the CCNE or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
When pursuing a career in nursing, one of the first questions an employer will ask a candidate during the interview process is whether they have graduated from an accredited program. This also applies to those who pursue university degrees at a higher level. According to experts, on the whole, the accreditation that applies to a particular nursing degree is separate from that of a university. Online students can establish the rating of both by visiting a school’s website. Accredited nursing programs by the ACEN and CCNE are also listed online. Before enrolling in an online nursing program, there are a few things online students should be aware of regarding accreditation.
Because employers consider accreditation of online programs as being particularly crucial, they will want to confirm whether an online nursing degree is legitimate or not. A source of reference is the Department of Education that determines agencies, such as the CCNE and ACEN as being reliable authorities on programs that have been verified. According to the dean of the school of nursing and health sciences at the online, for-profit Capella University, F. Patrick Robinson, it is a very high mark of quality. CCNE executive director, Jennifer Butlin, said that many employers would ensure that an online nursing degree program, as well as the institution with which it is associated, is accredited. When examining the university’s accreditation as a whole, potential students should be conscious of the fact that some online, for-profit schools hold national accreditation. However, according to the experts, the majority of employers usually have a preference for regional accreditation at university level via agencies like the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Online nursing programs are held responsible by the ACEN and CCNE, for adhering to and maintaining the same standards as campus attendance. According to associate director for ACEN, Sharon Beasley, the accreditation process for online programs has an extra stage of assessment that specifically concentrates on distance learning. As an example, faculty reviews are conducted by the ACEN to ascertain whether they are trained to teach online and how students and professors virtually interact with each other. Experts say that potential students should not be under the impression that doing their studies online is much easier or less intensive than personal attendance at a campus.
Accreditation authorities specify that online programs should include clauses that require students to attend practical instruction sessions in a healthcare facility in person, preferably near a student’s home. It is important to have access to professors who can demonstrate how specific procedures are carried out. Because many online students are in full-time jobs, it is particularly essential for them to assess how much time they can commit to attending classes and their location, as they cannot travel great distances to get there.
Online degree programs are regularly subjected to ongoing re-accreditation and reviews. Beasley says that with new online nursing degree programs constantly emerging at universities, prospective students need to bear in mind that each one is accredited in its entirety. Any marked change in delivery, says Butlin, will require a review, to ensure that it continues to meet accreditation standards. This can occur when blended program changes from a 20 percent offering online to a majority online. It is a requirement of the CCNE and ACEN that nursing degree programs are put through a re-accreditation process every few years. It, therefore, becomes imperative that prospective students examine the accreditation history of a program. Insufficient research before joining a program has caused some students to be hugely distressed, after discovering that promises made about a program eventually becoming accredited had not been realized, or a program that they were involved in had lost its accreditation.