After recently being granted accreditation for the Utah State University Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, the department is fine-tuning the programs for the fall semester.
According to Nursing and Health Professions Department Head Carma Miller, the department prepared for over a year for the nursing program to be evaluated by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
“We were really fortunate,” Miller said. “The wonderful thing is that they found nothing with our program that needed to be fixed.”
To grant accreditation, the ACEN evaluates the program’s faculty and staff, student policy, curriculum and resources, as well as the graduating nurses’ ability to pass licensing and find a job.
“A key indicator to a good program,” Miller said, “is that people want to hire your graduates.”
The accreditation of the BSN degree is important for the program, because, according to Miller, the Utah Board of Nursing requires that all nursing programs in Utah be accredited by one of the two nursing accrediting programs approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
The accreditation would also benefit students because master’s and doctorate programs require students to have a bachelor from an accredited institution.
USU Clinical and Simulation Coordinator LoraLynn Allen said receiving the accreditation means students graduating from USU’s BSN can be employed anywhere in the U.S.
“Being regionally accredited versus being nationally accredited is a big deal,” Allen said. “Our regional accreditation is our first step but the national accreditation, again, lets the students go anywhere.”
Allen said once the program was granted accreditation, some basic adjustments were made to how the curriculum is laid out for the semester.
“We haven’t had to make any huge adjustments,” Allen said. “Accreditation is essentially telling us that we’ve got a great team, we’ve got a great facility and we’re able to provide the best education for our nursing students.”
One of the resources Allen said nursing students have access to is the simulation lab, which allows students to practice the skills they learn in class.
She said students have access to the simulation lab from the first semester as each class requires a certain number of simulations and clinicals. Allen said research has shown simulations can replace up to 50 percent of clinicals.
“But they have to be good,” Allen said. “They have to be based in evidence, based on research to be able to be good, and that’s one piece that we’re really working on for our students and for our facilities.”
Miller said students interested in the nursing program should expect interesting coursework and learning about the career.
“Nursing programs are rigorous,” Miller said. “The first thing they can expect, I think, is a wonderful challenge.”
The department, according to Miller, is grateful for the support received from USU as well as the community.
The initial ACEN accreditation is good for five years. Miller said to continue to be accredited and renew accreditation in 2023, the department will strive to meet the standards every day.
“I think we are doing all the right things,” Millers said.