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From Earth to the Heavens

The US Department of Education and the Perseids

Big news!  On June 28th, the Consortium submitted its petition to the United States Department of Education (USDE or simply, as it is officially called, the ED) for Initial Recognition as a programmatic accrediting agency. The petition weighed as much as a block of granite – nearly 500 pages of exhibits and over 100 pages of text. You know the feeling when you have been working on a major, long term project — that feeling when the end is in sight? That’s how I’m feeling right now. The USDE is now reviewing our petition and requesting clarification as needed. In February, we will defend it in a public hearing before the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), a federally appointed review panel with 18 public members. We should hear a USDE decision sometime in June 2020. The end is in sight! And of course, another beginning.

When I joined the Consortium in November 2015, I was quite confident in my knowledge about accreditation – its purpose, its importance and how to do it.  I’d led or consulted on over 20 accreditation reviews in the health sciences. My academic career was in behavioral science, with a focus on educational psychology. I’d spent two decades creating, reviewing, “rehabbing” and scaling up effective learning environments, mostly in postgraduate healthcare training. I believed that I was very well versed in accreditation.

In hindsight, one of the many gifts of this past four years has been a much deeper dive than I ever imagined into accreditation. It is all captured in that granite block of documentation – the solid foundation for action that characterizes the Consortium’s accreditation arm. The foundation of any accreditation agency is determined by the quality, rigor and integrity of its accreditation activities and decision-making. After careful consideration, we have made some changes to ensure that the Consortium remains on the forefront of postgraduate NP training and programmatic accreditation. Our Accreditation Committee has become the Accreditation Commission. We have expanded our Accreditation Policies and Procedures Manual to include the revised accreditation actions. We’ve also added policies on Notification of the Public, Substantive Change, Appeals and Grievances/Complaints. Click here to read the accompanying News Update that gives more detail about these changes.

The incredible display of shooting stars that occurred last week, the annual gift of the earth’s transit through the remains of the Perseid Meteor, reminds me of the Consortium. (I know, it’s a stretch, but stay with me here…) With the Perseids there are literally hundreds of ‘shooting stars’ streaking across the night skies, visible all across the globe. This year’s Perseids were paired with a huge full moon that cast its light across the heavens. However, every night of the year elusive streaks of light mark the paths of other astral remnants. They’re just not as visible or numerous.

As with the shooting stars, the NP postgraduate training movement is more and more visible, an impressive display and a quiet, systematic building of capacity that is always present. Consider the HRSA funding opportunity and the immediate national response. Consider the 2019 Consortium Annual Conference with participants from 28 states: program directors, academicians, clinicians, trainees, and executive leadership, all illuminate the growth of the field. In just over a decade we’ve gone from one to more than 70 postgrad nurse practitioner training programs in primary care, with over 650 NPs completing that extra year of training. The same trajectory is happening in specialty NP training. These are our shooting stars. Highlighting all that we have accomplished, shining a bright light across the nation, is the Consortium’s petition to the U.S. Department of Education for Initial Recognition as a programmatic accrediting agency.

Let’s celebrate a brilliant four years! Here’s to our continued success in blazing paths across the healthcare skies.


Executive Director