With the increasing demand for nursing positions across the nation, Central Oregon Community College now boasts another positive to its nursing program. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) has recently granted COCC’s associate degree program with national accreditation.
“A national accreditation such as ACEN is required for employment with certain agencies, such as VA hospitals and clinics, nurse residency programs, especially those in larger hospitals, and it is becoming a requirement for graduate schools,” said Jane Morrow, nursing department chair at COCC.
Morrow is part of the core leadership of the nursing program. She helps develop, implement, and evaluate ways to improve the department. By having ACEN accreditation, she feels it demonstrates that COCC’s nursing program is high quality.
Julie Downing, the instructional dean at COCC, was also instrumental for the accreditation to become a reality.
“Having this prestigious (gold standard) accreditation also benefits the college, local hospitals and clinics, and the community as it has created a sense of pride and ensures that we are sending out the highest level of qualified Nurses into the workplace” Downing said.
In terms of nursing, Downing feels that having the highest quality education program for students is one of her main priorities.
According to ACEN’s accreditation manual, “The purpose of the ACEN is to provide specialized accreditation for all levels of nursing education and transition-to-practice programs.”
ACEN is also recognized as a crediting body by the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
However, while national accreditation is exciting, the process to obtain this accreditation was long and difficult.
“Four years ago, the faculty started discussion regarding obtaining this certification. It was becoming apparent our students would benefit from an ACEN certification, either for a job or for graduate school, and we wanted to help them out,” said Morrow.
There were many steps to obtain this certification. This included faculty going to an orientation conference back in April of 2017, hosting a panel of ACEN visitors at COCC, and writing a self-study report on six standards. These standards include Mission and Administrative Capacity, Faculty & Staff, Students, Curriculum, Resources and Outcomes.
When asked about why ACEN accreditation is so important Downing said, “It’s because of the rigor. It is not easy to obtain this accreditation as they require the absolute highest quality of education which we have proven we offer. As a result, ACEN is the most highly respected accrediting body in terms of nursing education programs.”
Even though the college has received its initial accreditation, national accreditation is an ongoing progress. COCC is set to have another ACEN review in 2024.
“I want to thank the entire Nursing faculty as they did the lion’s share of the lifting on this multiple year project, especially Jane Morrow and Tony Russell. We could not have done this without them,” said Downing.
Luke Reynolds/The Broadside