Why Nursing School Accreditation Matters: Is It Really Important?

Is an accredited school different from a non-accredited one?
Is an accredited school different from a non-accredited one?

Attending nursing school is a fundamental first step toward achieving future success in your career. Your education is an investment of your time, money, and effort, so it’s important to feel confident in the program you choose.

If you’re thinking about attending nursing school, you’ve probably already started some research. You may have compared factors such as curriculum, tuition, and rankings.

But have you thought about accreditation? This credential can be crucial to choosing the right school and saving you time and money in the end.

Read on to understand why nursing school accreditation matters.

What Is Accreditation?

At the most basic level, accreditation is about quality control. According to the U.S. Department of Education, accreditation is meant to:

  • Assess the quality of academic programs at institutions of higher education.
  • Create a culture of continuous improvement of academic quality at colleges and universities and stimulate a general raising of standards among educational institutions.
  • Involve faculty and staff comprehensively in institutional evaluation and planning.
  • Establish criteria for professional certification and licensure and for upgrading courses offering such preparation.

In nursing, the purpose of accreditation is to ensure that nursing education programs across the United States are being held to common standards of quality. This furthers the profession and greatly enhances the overall quality of care administered by nurses.

Accreditation helps to ensure that a nurse educated in Arizona and a nurse educated in Maine are able to perform their duties with the same level of competence.

Why Nursing School Accreditation Matters

Why Nursing School Accreditation Matters
Why Nursing School Accreditation Matters

Accreditation of a nursing program has numerous benefits in addition to ensuring students are eligible for federal student aid.

Benefits For Institutions

Accreditation benefits institutions as well. By validating a school’s nursing program, it serves as a student recruitment tool.

It also enables an institution to focus on continuous evaluation and improvement of its programs and offers professional development opportunities to faculty and staff.

For an institution with multiple nursing programs, nursing accreditation can also help ensure a level of consistency in the quality of education offered across its programs.

Benefits For Students

First and foremost, accreditation provides students with a measure of confidence in the academic quality of a nursing program and its capacity to prepare them for a career.

A program’s accreditation status can help you make informed decisions related to your education and career prospects.

Accreditation may also facilitate the transfer of credits to another nursing program if you decide to change schools, and it’s often required for admission to graduate-level nursing programs.

Earning a degree from an accredited nursing program can also affect your ability to get a job or advance your nursing career.

Accreditation is required for licensure in a number of states, and for those seeking licensure for an advanced practice role — such as nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist — accreditation is mandatory across the country.

Many public and private employers, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, also require or prefer candidates to have graduated from an accredited program.

According to the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), one of the more prominent accrediting agencies, graduates of ACEN-accredited programs outperform graduates of non-accredited programs on licensure and advanced certification exams.

Disadvantages of Attending a Non-Accredited Nursing School

Disadvantages of Attending a Non-Accredited Nursing School
Disadvantages of Attending a Non-Accredited Nursing School

Enrolling in a non-accredited nursing university can pose many risks for a future nurse. Here are the main dangers you are facing when attending a non-accredited school:

The quality of the education you receive may be questionable. Accreditation is a stamp of approval that certifies the quality of a nursing school and its programs.

One of the greatest risks of attending a non-accredited nursing school is that you have no way of knowing if they can provide you with qualitative education.

Transferring to another nursing school may not be possible. If you decide to transfer to another university, you may not be able to, because accredited schools may not accept transfer credit from a non-accredited school.

You may not be eligible for federal financial aid. The U.S. The Department of Education requires that all schools that participate in the student aid programs be accredited.

Moreover, your state education agency’s financial programs may be unwilling to grant financial aid to non-accredited schools.

It can affect your employment opportunities. Employers know that accredited schools have high education standards so they tend to hire nurses that graduated from such schools because they deem graduates more qualified to do the job.

What’s The Difference Between CCNE Vs ACEN?

What’s The Difference Between CCNE Vs ACEN?
What’s The Difference Between CCNE Vs ACEN?

The main difference between the CCNE vs ACEN is that the CCNE only accredits bachelor and master’s degree level programs. ACEN accredits all levels of nursing programs from practical to doctorate.

The ACEN also works more closely with government agencies, allowing them to provide student assistance programs. This includes financial aid, counseling and job search services.

Both have their own unique accreditation process, but both meet all national standards. One is not necessarily better or worse than the other.

The CCNE uses more self regulation while the ACEN prefers to follow a strict set of their own guidelines. The ACEN is the older organization which means it has had more time to perfect its process.

Conclusion

Since nursing is a career that involves rigorous training and experience, it would be tragic to discover that your school is not accredited.

If you have chosen nursing as your career path, understanding why nursing program accreditation matters should be on your to-do list. A nursing certificate from an accredited university is sure to bring you plentiful nursing job opportunities!