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Overview of the Accreditation Standards

History and Purpose

As promised, we’ll begin to explore how the Accreditation Standards were created and why they are important.  The take home point about the Standards is that they provide the framework for excellence and evaluation as well as pragmatic guidelines for the design and delivery of the program.  They are the compass rose for the program.  As Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.”

A brief history:  As many of you know, an informal group of national NP thought-leaders came together several years ago to share best practices and support the advancement of postgraduate training for NPs.  Ultimately they created the Consortium.  This group identified the establishment of an accreditation process for NP postgraduate training programs as a priority.  The number of programs was growing.  The need for consistent and meaningful (i.e. reliable and valid) measures of quality and usefulness became compelling.  As the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors writes: “Accreditation assures us that higher education programs and institutions meet professional standards of academic and operational integrity and quality.”

Over a period of a few years, the group sought out potential accrediting organizations to

was to take this on, but was unable to identify a partner. They decided that the need for accreditation was becoming increasingly more important.  They moved ahead and developed such a vehicle.  A group of ten came together and agreed to author the Standards.  They included NPs who were post graduate training program directors, academic nursing faculty, federal health service executives, and NP consultants.  Over a two-year period, they conceptualized an accreditation process that focused on rigorous experiential training for postgraduate NPs to a high level of performance in complex healthcare settings.  The Standards were intended to be broad enough to encompass various NP specialties, yet focused enough to provide a meaningful peer evaluation of programmatic excellence.

The draft Accreditation Standards underwent multiple reviews and revisions, eventually resulting in the eight Accreditation Standards that we have now.  The Standards are: 1. Mission, Goals and Objectives; 2. Curriculum; 3. Evaluation; 4. Eligibility; 5. Administration; 6. Operations; 7. Staff; and 8. Postgraduate Trainee Resources.  Each of these eight standards has elements that parse out essential components in program development and delivery. We will take a journey through each of these Standards, their Elements and sometimes their Sub-elements.

In the next blog we’ll explore Standard 1:  Mission, Goals and Objectives.

Until then,