GCU earns re-accreditation for all nursing programs
By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University’s Nursing leaders thought: Be bold.
Instead of seeking re-accreditation for a mere one or two degree programs, why not just go for it? So the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions did just that, seeking — and receiving — full re-accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education for all 13 of its nursing degree programs: two baccalaureate, seven master’s, two doctoral level and two post-master’s.
The length of accreditation spans from five years for the master’s programs (through 2026) to 10 years for baccalaureate, doctoral and post-graduate (through 2031).
Applying for re-accreditation for that many programs, in one fell swoop, is something unheard of.
“This was a HUGE undertaking and a success that we are very proud of,” said Heather Ziemianski, Assistant Dean of the Prelicensure Nursing Program.
All nursing programs are required to hold either an accreditation from a national nursing organization, such as the CCNE, or must have state approval.
“Most nursing schools want that accreditation, in addition to their state approval,” said Dean Dr. Lisa Smith.
The CCNE, officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, contributes to the improvement of public health, according to its website, and aims to “ensure the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate and residency programs in nursing.”
It was in 2017 when the college began the herculean accreditation process.
The Nursing program’s leaders wanted to do something different this time around and coordinate all of its accreditations for its programs at one time.
“The way they were scheduled was based around when the programs were developed. So we would have, basically, an accreditation visit every several years because of how the programs came onboard. We decided to consolidate and go for all of our programs to be re-accredited at the same time,” Smith said. “Rather than every three or four years going through this, let’s just get it done.
“But it was a tremendous amount of work because we had to provide documentation of meeting all accreditation standards for every single nursing program at the baccalaureate, graduate, post-master’s certificate and doctoral level.”
The accreditation process includes self-assessment, along with a site visit, which was virtual because of the global pandemic. A CCNE accreditor will visit the college at a later date, a requirement for schools that received a virtual visit.
While receiving simultaneous re-accreditation for all its programs was a major accomplishment for the college, that stamp of approval across the span of its academic offerings ultimately benefits GCU’s nursing students.
What it means is that students are receiving a high-caliber education.
“Part of what they’re trying to do is ensure that the programs that they accredit are effective and meet the standard for rigor and quality,” said Smith, who added that CCNE is considered the gold standard when it comes to accreditation bodies in the nursing profession.
Securing that accreditation, Smith said, “took a village.” It involved not only the work of the Nursing faculty but the diligence of the University’s Academic Compliance and Regulation team, under the direction Executive Director Scott Campbell and Accreditation Liaison Officer Dr. Jennifer Lech.
“It’s a real collaborative process between the college and our state compliance team,” Smith said.
It’s been a stellar year for the Nursing program, and not only when it comes to a major re-accreditation effort.
GCU’s nursing students in the first quarter of 2021 scored a 100% first-time pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination, the rigorous test all nurses must pass to be able to practice in the field.
And there’s more to come for the college, which is getting ready to open its third simulation lab. The dedicated space in the Natural Sciences Building replicates a hospital floor and is used by the faculty to train students in real-life situations they may encounter in their nursing careers.
The new space will include four hospital rooms, two debriefing areas, a control room and a nurses’ station. Also, two simulation lab teams are being added to helm those simulations.
The simulation lab is slated to open to nursing students in the fall as the college continues to do what it does best: Be bold.
The following are the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions’ re-accredited programs:
- Prelicensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (also including the Accelerated BSN)
- Registered Nurse-to-BSN
- Master of Science in Nursing: Health Care Quality & Patient Safety
- MSN: Health Informatics
- MSN: Leadership in Health Care Systems
- MSN: Nursing Education
- MSN: Public Health Nursing
- MSN Acute Care Nursing Practitioner — Adult Gerontology
- MSN: Family Nurse Practitioner
Doctor of Nursing Program
- DNP: Educational Leadership
Post-Graduate Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Certificate
- Post-MSN: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner — Adult Gerontology Certificate
- Post-MSN: Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate
GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.