On Sept 7 through Sept 9, the Accreditation Commission for Education and Nursing visited MCCC. This is part of the beginning stage in the reaccreditation process for the Registered Nurse program, as well as the Registered Nurse to Practicing Nurse program.
“We passed that first step with flying colors,” said Dean of Health Sciences Kimberly Lindquist. “They did not find any areas needing development, and they did not find any areas to change.”
In Michigan, a nursing program can seek national nursing accreditation, Lindquist said. The accreditation agencies create a set of standards for nursing programs, and if the program meets those criteria, then it becomes accredited.
Accreditation is important for students because it will help them get financial aid, said Nursing Program Coordinator Lori Biggs. It also gives students a better chance of employment because some employers will not hire new nurses if they don’t come from accredited programs.
“Continuing accreditation assures students that the program they are graduating from upholds the highest standards,” Biggs said.
The Registered Nurse program at MCCC has been accredited since the 80s, Lindquist said.
However, the longest a program can be accredited for is eight years. Once those eight years are up, the program will have to be reaccredited.
The Health Science division formally began that procedure in the spring of 2020, Lindquist said. However, they do reaccreditation work every semester to make sure the curriculum matches the standards set forth by ACEN.
“The process includes a very extensive self study,” Lindquist said. “We have to demonstrate in writing how we meet all the criteria.”
They finished the self-study by June 2021 to send to ACEN in preparation for their on-site visit.
After the on-site visit, ACEN will report their findings to an evaluation review panel, Lindquist said. The review panel’s verdict will be finalized in Jan. 2022.
Following that step, the review panel’s recommendation for re-accreditation will be sent to the Board of Commissioners, said Lindquist. The program’s accreditation status will then be confirmed in April or May of 2022.
There are six primary aspects upon which the nursing program is evaluated, Lindquist said.
The first is mission and administrative capacity. ACEN checks to see how the program’s mission, vision and philosophy are aligned with MCCC’s as a whole.
“One strength they mentioned was our partnership with the Middle College and Ida’s early college,” said Lindquist.
The second is faculty and staff, specifically the credentials of the faculty. ACEN also ensures that the staff have a voice in budget issues and campus and program processes.
The third is students. ACEN makes sure that the policies for nursing students match the policies for MCCC students with other majors. They also make sure that faculty are offering student services, as well as clearly communicating curriculum expectations.
Additionally, ACEN checks to see if there is a process for students to bring up grievances with faculty.
“They’re really making sure there’s an emphasis on due process,” said Lindquist.
The fourth main criterion is curriculum. ACEN investigates how the instruction in the classrooms, labs and clinical spaces lines up with learning objectives for the program.
“They were very impressed with all of the work the faculty has done with the curriculum,” Lindquist said.
The fifth is resources. ACEN evaluates the program’s budget, classroom and laboratory space, learning resources, textbooks and online software.
The sixth and final criterion is outcomes. Specifically, they assess how well students are learning based on program completion rates and job placement rates.
“If students can work through our program but can never pass the license exam, there’s a problem,” said Lindquist. “We make sure that we’re adequately preparing the students for that exam.”
Currently, it is not required for RN programs to be accredited in the state of Michigan, Lindquist said. However, by Jan. 1, 2025, it will be mandatory for all RN programs in Michigan to be accredited.
Even after the on-site visit, the Health Science Division’s work is never done, said Lindquist. They will continue to assess the program’s curriculum and make sure it meets ACEN’s standards.
“I’m very blessed to be working with such an incredible team,” said Lindquist. “They’ve done tremendous work.”
Biggs also emphasized the contributions of the staff and faculty of the Health Science Division.
“We can breathe a little easier this week, following the visit, yet we all know the work continues daily, in maintaining our outstanding RN program!” Biggs said.