By Curt Yeomans
Clayton State University's Master of Science in Nursing program recently received the highest accreditation marks possible from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the university said.
The program has full accreditation for the next five years, and the commission will send a review team back to the university at the end of that time period to evaluate how the nursing program's graduates have done in their careers, said Katherine Willock, the director of Clayton State's two-year-old nursing graduate program.
Willock said the program also scored a perfect 10 during a site visit last November, and school officials learned, on May 4, the accreditation had been granted by the commission with no recommendations for improvement.
"I knew we had done well, but I was very surprised that we didn't have anything [to improve upon], and that we met everything because it's unusual for a new program to get a perfect score," Willock said. "It was a testament to the hard work put in by everyone here."
The commission is a national accrediting agency which oversees baccalaureate and graduate-level nursing degree programs at 640 schools to make sure they meet four standards of "quality and integrity," according to the CCNE web site.
Areas of evaluation listed in the agency's "Standards for Accreditation of Baccalaureate and Graduate Degree Nursing Programs" are mission and governance; institutional commitment and resources; curriculum and teaching-learning practices; and collection of student performance data and faculty accomplishments.
Willock said the commission's seal of approval is important because graduates of the program need to have a diploma from an accredited master's degree program before they can pursue admission into a doctoral program in nursing. Students also need to be enrolled in an accredited program to qualify for scholarships, loans and grants, she added.
There are two national accrediting agencies which schools can turn to for approval, Willock said. One is CCNE, and the other is the National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission.
"Accreditation is crucial," Willock said. "Our accrediting bodies determine what the basis of instruction should be."
There are 16 students enrolled in Clayton State's Master of Science in Nursing program this spring, and at least two of those students are scheduled to receive their degrees in December, Willock said. The program was approved by the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents in July 2006, and classes were first offered in the fall 2007 semester.