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What is accreditation, and why does it matter?

Academic institutions – especially in higher education – are organizations of tradition and procedure. Unless you’re already familiar with the customs and norms, sometimes it’s hard to understand. Take accreditation, for example. Why does it even matter?

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education logo

Accrediting organizations exist across various fields of study. The School of Nursing is accredited by CCNE – the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education – which “ensures the quality and integrity” of nursing programs by evaluating if Boise State “engages in effective educational practices”. Essentially, accreditation holds schools accountable for their educational methods for the benefit of the field and students.

Schools must adhere to standards and best practices established by national organizations, such as, in the case of nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). This is a professional organization serving as a “catalyst for excellence and innovation in nursing education, research, and practice.”

In spring 2021, the AACN released an updated version of its “Essentials” – standards for educating baccalaureate-level and advanced practice nurses. These were a major factor in the school’s recent curriculum revisions, since schools need to implement them in order to keep up accreditation.

How does it impact my education?

Although regular revisions are frequently minor, the 2021 changes were much more dramatic. They include over two-hundred competencies that nursing programs need to meet; many already exist in Boise State’s program. But Director of Simulation-based Research and Education Kelley Connor acknowledged that even the process of evaluating and identifying where the curriculum meets them “is a big undertaking,” she said.

Text over a photo of nurses says, "School of Nursing Bronco Nurse. CCNE Accredited to 2030."

The AACN released a statement in May 2023 saying they expect the Essentials to take three years to fully implement. Boise State will hit the mark in two-and-a-half. In both curriculum revision and implementation, “we’re ahead of the curve,” as assistant professor Sarah Llewellyn put it. Llewellyn served as the school’s competency-based education champion during the recent curriculum overhaul.

The School of Nursing earned a 10-year accreditation from the AACN in 2020.