SNHU Nursing Programs Receive 10-Year CCNE Reaccreditation

A student in SNHU's CCNE accredited nursing programs.

Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) online nursing programs recently received a 10-year reaccreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), an autonomous professional accrediting agency that strives to promote the quality and integrity of baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs. SNHU attained initial accreditation from CCNE for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in 2014.

“This shows evidence of our commitment to the needs of the communities we serve by creating educational opportunities that produce competent nurses,” Margaret “Peggy” Moriarty-Litz, chief nursing administrator/executive director of Nursing Programs at SNHU, said. “This means that our nurse leaders and faculty are qualified, sufficient in number and value, and adhere to standards for excellence in teaching and learning.

Students and graduates can feel confident that their selection of SNHU’s nursing programs prepares them for their roles in practice. Reaccreditation demonstrates continuous success from initial program rollout and highlights a strong foundation for future program growth.

Why CCNE Accreditation Matters

According to Dr. Lisa Urban, associate chief of nursing at SNHU, “seeking and maintaining professional nursing accreditation for SNHU’s online nursing programs supports our mission and commitment to providing accessible, affordable, high-quality, innovative pathways to meet the needs of practicing professionals.”

CCNE accreditation not only addresses the quality and integrity of a nursing program, it also serves the public interest by assessing and identifying nursing programs that engage in effective educational practices.

“The goals of accreditation are to ensure that nursing programs consistently fulfill their stated mission and expected program outcomes through self-evaluation, continuous program improvement and the pursuit of academic excellence,” Urban said. “These accreditation goals align with the university and SNHU nursing program missions.”

Urban said it’s important for SNHU nursing programs to maintain accreditation, as it ensures the public and the university’s current and potential students that its programs are innovative, high quality and are designed to prepare them for practice in rapidly changing healthcare environments.

“A major benefit of the accreditation process is that it engages all our stakeholders in a conversation to ensure that we continue to provide an evidence-based curriculum, designed to produce effective professionals who can meet the demands of the work world,” Urban said.

What It Takes to Become CCNE Accredited

There are a number of steps to achieve CCNE accreditation. It begins with self-assessment, a comprehensive and detailed self-study process, which generates the program's assessment of how it meets CCNE’s accreditation standards.

“This self-study report documents program strengths and action plans for areas of improvement,” Moriarty-Litz said. “The CCNE accreditation process and standards consist of a review and assessment of the nursing program's mission and governance, institutional commitment and resources, curriculum and teaching-learning practices and assessment and achievement of program outcomes.”

The second step includes an evaluation team of peers, which is appointed by the commission to visit the nursing program to validate the information in the self-study document and to determine whether the programs meet the key elements outlined in each of the accreditation standards.

As part of this visit, Moriarty-Litz said, “Stakeholder groups are invited to share experiences related to the nursing programs with the site visitors.”

The accreditation team prepares a report of findings for the institution under review and CCNE based upon the self-study report and the information gathered in the on-site visit. The nursing program is then provided with an opportunity to respond in writing to the team report, and additional or updated information to support standard compliance and continuous improvement efforts can be submitted as part of the response.

The self-study document, the team report and the program's response to the team report are reviewed by the CCNE Accreditation Review Committee (ARC), who make a confidential recommendation regarding accreditation to the board. The CCNE Board considers the ARC recommendation, decides to grant, deny or withdraw accreditation of the program(s) or issues a show-cause directive, Moriarty-Litz said. If the accreditation is denied or withdrawn, the institution is allowed to appeal the action. This process is reinstated every 10 years or sooner, depending on the success of the program in demonstrating compliance and improvements in the quality of educational program offerings.

Quality Evidence-Based Programs with Strong Infrastructures

Initial accreditation and reaccreditation address the goal of creating quality, evidence-based programs that have strong infrastructures, Urban said, including sufficient faculty, academic supports and clinical experiences to ensure student success.

“Accreditation is also a mechanism by which a program can reflect on the current state of nursing practice and prepare nursing professionals for future job opportunities,” Urban said. “Adherence to accreditation standards encourages programs to design innovative teaching and learning strategies that have seamless educational pathways to advance nursing knowledge, skills and the attainment of the next degree.”

Pamme Boutselis is a writer and senior content director in higher education. Follow her on Twitter @pammeb or connect on LinkedIn.

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