GGC’s nursing department gained their national accreditation last November, opening up more opportunities for alumni of the program.
The program began accepting students in the fall of 2014 and graduated their first class in the spring of 2016. The accreditation process was initiated in February 2017 by Dr. Diane White, Dean of School of Health Sciences.
“Up until last year, you didn’t have to be externally accredited by anyone, but then the board of nursing made the decision that every nursing program in the state needed to start the process,” White said. “It gives us all the same standards we’re going by, and it helps us uphold the standard in the profession on one level. They made the recommendation, but I had already applied and started it.”
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) uses four main criteria to evaluate nursing programs across the country. The main elements analyzed are the program’s mission and vision, resources, curriculum and learning outcomes, and program assessment and evaluation (how the program measures their own effectiveness).
White went on to describe what the application process entailed.
“The process starts about a year in advance before they get here,” White said. “They came and visited us for their on-site visit last February of 2018, so even a year prior to that, we started writing a report to tell them about who we are . . . You have to write to [the four standards] and show evidence that you have met those. You submit that report to them about six months before they come see you.”
For the on-site visit, representatives from the CCNE spent time looking through school resources and D2L to analyze different nursing courses as well as interviewing faculty, students, and alumni about the program. They also monitored several different classes.
“We knew when they left that they had no recommendations and no concerns, so that’s always a good feeling, because that means that ‘okay, we don’t have anything to write to now and change,’” White said.
After the on-campus visit in February, the CCNE spent more time further reviewing the school’s written reports and assessment results until granting the program accreditation in November.
White wanted to obtain accreditation sooner rather than later to give both current students and alumni a better chance of getting into graduate school.
“Their applications would usually say, ‘Did you graduate from an accredited nursing program?’ Well, they couldn’t say yes. And I sure didn’t want them not to have an opportunity to go to graduate school because we hadn’t,” White said.
Obtaining accreditation also opens up more opportunities for nursing students to apply for scholarships and grants.
“It’s easier for our donor office and our development team to go out and say, ‘Hey, we have this great program,’ and now they can say it’s accredited,” White said. “People that want to give money for nursing scholarships feel better giving to something that’s really got that stamp of approval.”
Having the same credentials but a lower cost than other respected nursing schools assures current and potential students that they’re making a wise choice by coming to GGC for nursing.
“It lets everyone know that this program is held by the same standards as Emory, Mercer University, UCLA. It really helps the students know they’re in a program that someone is monitoring, puts a stamp of approval on that makes it quality,” White said.
This accreditation is good for five years, at which point the department will have to reapply via the same process. If they pass in five years, their next accreditation will be good for 10 years.