SFSC Nursing Program Selected as Candidate for National Accreditation
South Florida State College’s (SFSC) Associate Degree in Nursing program was recently deemed eligible to participate in the candidacy process for accreditation by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).
Currently, SFSC’s Nursing Program is approved through the State Board of Nursing and regionally accredited through the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). While the SACS accreditation shows that the program meets regional standards, the NLNAC accreditation is national, is specific to nursing education, and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. To receive accreditation, the SFSC Associate in Nursing program will have two years to complete a self-study, proving it meets the six standards, and then be followed up with a site visit from the NLNAC.
“Accreditation is not mandatory for approved nursing education programs,” said Dr. Michele Heston, director, SFSC Nursing Education. “It’s a mark of distinction and excellence, and shows that the program is taking extra steps to provide the best quality nursing education to its students.”
According to the NLNAC, accreditation looks at the program within the context of the profession, current evidenced-based practices, stakeholder needs and concerns, institutional mission and resources, and student interest and well-being to assure program quality. When a program is accredited, the faculty is properly credentialed, the curriculum prepares students for the nursing profession, and the majority of program graduates pass their licensure exams. Accreditation is beneficial not just to the educational institution but to the students, the faculty, and the community.
“Accreditation provides assistance in the transfer of credits and courses between institutions and programs or the admission of students to graduate programs,” Dr. Heston said. “Many employers also look for nurses who have graduated from accredited programs. It assures patients and their families that the nurses who will be taking care of them have come from the highest level of education. It also holds faculty accountable to continuously seek out and stay current with the best of the best practices in nursing education and research.”
“The primary role of accreditation is to promote high standards and excellence,” Dr. Heston said. “It serves as the agent that encourages nursing programs to push the outside of the envelope, to not accept the status quo, and to be the vision for the future of where nursing education needs to go. In SFSC’s nursing program, we strive for excellence every day.”
The NLNAC is responsible for the specialized accreditation of nursing education programs (clinical doctorate, master’s, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical programs) and is one of two national nursing education program accrediting agencies. It is the only national nursing education accrediting agency that accredits associate degree programs in nursing. Currently, 1,222 out of 3000 nursing programs are nationally accredited; 673 are associate degree programs.