The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing


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Accreditation of Continuing Education in Nursing

Continuing education has been increasingly recognized as an essential way for nurses to expand their theoretical knowledge and enhance clinical performance. The profession must therefore seek to assure its members and the public that continuing education offerings meet the established educational standards to the end that the quality of nursing care is enhanced.

The American Nurses' Association views accreditation of continuing education in nursing as the process whereby the Association, through designated approving bodies, grants public recognition to continuing education activities which meet certain established educational standards as determined through initial and periodic evaluations.

The American Nurses' Association shares with the individual professional the responsibility to monitor and improve the quality of nursing care. The responsibility for maintenance of safe and competent practice rests with the individual practitioner. That responsibility includes participation in effective continuing education.

The leadership role assumed by the American Nurses' Association in matters pertaining to continuing education is based on the following: the direct relationship between the quality of continuing education and the quality of nursing practice. The continuing commitment of the Association to promote legal standards of state licehsure while facilitating interstate mobility of nurses and the responsibility and authority of ANA to enunciate standards for education including continuing education.

Through the initiation of a national system of accreditation of continuing education activities in nursing, the professional association seeks to promote implementation of these standards at the national, state, and local levels and to encourage sponsors to continually improve the quality of the offerings.

The ANA Commission on Education, acting within the authority granted to it by the ANA Bylaws, sets forth the broad policies and principles and mechanisms upon which the accreditation of continuing education is based and initially appoints all members of all the accrediting bodies. The National Accreditation Board (NAB) is the governing body for the implementation of the mechanism for effecting accreditation of continuing education. This fourteen-member body consists of experts selected from nursing education, nursing service and nursing practice, individuals Knowledgeable in credentialing as well as public members. The five Regional Accrediting Committees (RAC), basically reflect a similar kind of expertise. The eleven-member National Review Committee (NRC), accredits nondegree granting continuing education programs preparing nurses for expanded roles.

The accrediting mechanisms are based on the Standards for Continuing Education as developed by the Council on Continuing Education and approved by the Commission on Nursing Education and published in the documentSfanc/ards for Nursing Education. The responsibility for the development of operational policies to implement the mechanism of accreditation is the responsibility of the NAB working ,in concert With the various accrediting bodies. Decision-making authority with respect to the accreditation status of any applicant to the process rests with the NAB and NRC and their appropriate accrediting committees as identified in the document Accreditation of Continuing Education in Nursing. Their decisions are subject to appeal only by the applicant through a defined appeal mechanism. The. NAB and NRC have the responsibility for making ail subsequent appointments to their respective bodies based on specific defined categories of representation and eligibility criteria for appointment as set forth in the ANA publication Accreditation of Continuing Education in Nursing.

Five (5) Regional Accrediting Committees, (RAC), together with the NAB, assure the standardization of the accreditation process by applying a uniform mechanism at the national and regional levels. Based on national criteria, an RAC grants accreditation status to state nurses associations, national specialty nursing organizations, universities and colleges, federal nursing services, and state boards of nursing within its region. Accreditation is granted for a maximum period of four years. These five regional accrediting bodies (RAC), are listed as follows:

Mountain: Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

North Central: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, WestVirginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

Northeast: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, District of Columbia, New York, Maryland, Virgin Islands and Delaware.

Southeast: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, : South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Canal Zone.

. West: Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Guam, : Washington, Oregon and California.

- State nurses associations, national specialty nursing organizations, federal nursing services, and state boards of nursing may apply for accreditation, which attests to the organization's ability to meet the established criteria for conducting a total program of continuing education. If accepted, the organization is authorized to approve the continuing education programs or offerings of applying sponsors and/or constituents. Colleges or universities may apply for accreditation which attests to the institution's ability to meet the established criteria for conducting a total program of continuing education.

National organizations which do not meet the criteria for membership in the Federation of Nursing Organizations apply for approval of continuing education programs and/or offerings sponsored by them through the RAC in which the organization's national headquarters is located. State-contained constituents of these organizations apply to the state nurses association and/or state board of nursing, as appropriate, for approval of continuing education.

The National Review Committee accredits nondegree granting continuing education programs preparing nurses for expanded roles. Accreditation of expanded role programs is accomplished by the National Review Committee acting upon the recommendation of five (5) Review Teams, each representing one of the five specialized areas of nursing practice: Medical-Surgical Nursing, Psychiatric Mental-Health, Community Health, Maternal-Child Health, and Gerontological Nursing. An appropriate team is assigned to respond to requests for accreditation from program directors. The National Review Committee utilizes the established criteria for accreditation of continuing education programs preparing nurses for expanded roles and content guidelines developed by the appropriate ANA Divisions on Practice as the basis for evaluation of these programs. The maximum period of accreditation is three years.

The American Nurses' Association as a provider of continuing education is eligible to apply to the National Accreditation Board for accreditation of its program of continuing education and the authority to approve continuing education activities sponsored by District No. 99. District No. 99 refers to those ANA members who, because they reside in foreign countries or in United States territories where there is no constituent unit of the Association, have direct membership in the Association.

A monitoring mechanism has been established by the Commission on Education to evaluate the effectiveness of the total mechanism of accreditation of continuing education which now involves approximately 135 appointed individuals working in 13 different committees. The implementation of the process will also be further !evaluated as a part of the ANA Credential Study.

Additional information regarding the mechanism for ANA accreditation of continuing education in nursing may be obtained by writing to: American Nurses' Association, National Accreditation Board for Continuing Education, 2420 Pershing Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64108.

ANA Commission on Human Rights Established

ANA's House of Delegates voted to establish a Commission on Human Rights. The new commission will set the scope of the Association's responsibility for addressing and responding to the equal opportunity and human rights concerns of nurses and health care recipients. The new bylaws change puts major focus on ethnic people of color. It will also provide direction to and consultation for affirmative action programming for nursing education and health related institutions and agencies.

The American Nurses' Association was the first national health organization to address the matter of racial discrimination in its membership. It did so in the mid 1940s when the House of Delegates set in motion a plan to remove barriers to membership in all its district and state nurses associations.


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