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Nursing Program Earns Accreditation

Sept. 25, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

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The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing has notified Sam Houston State University that its nursing program has been fully accredited.

The action is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013, meaning that all SHSU nursing graduates have received their degrees from an accredited program.

The organization’s Board of Commissioners, composed of nursing professionals from across the nation, granted initial accreditation to SHSU’s program during its meeting last month. The next evaluation visit to SHSU will take place in spring 2018.

“Although there is a severe nursing shortage, most hospitals are asking for nurses from accredited programs,” said Anne Stiles, director of SHSU’s School of Nursing. “Without accreditation, our nursing graduates could probably get jobs, but the jobs would be limited to those in smaller, rural hospitals only.

“Now that our program is accredited, the opportunities for our nurses are broadened,” she said. “They can get employment anywhere, in state or out of state, but certainly it’s helping Texas because most of our students are from here and they will work here when they graduate.”

The accreditation is also beneficial for students who wish to continue their education, since graduate nursing schools only take students from an accredited undergraduate program.

The accreditation also makes the program more prestigious.

“When you get accredited, it provides an external validation that you have met high standards,” said Stiles.

“Every agency we’ve approached about clinical experiences for our students has wanted us,” she said. “But it’s not only because of the accreditation; it’s because of our students. They come to work, they look very professional, they act professional, they come ready to start their day, and they are not tentative at all when they talk to doctors. Sometimes doctors think they are the RNs, not student nurses, because they already have a professional presence.”

The program started three years ago with two partnerships. It now has more than 45, extending from Houston to Bryan-College Station to Trinity and includes clinical experiences from pediatrics to psychiatry.

“In addition to hospitals, our students also work with clinics, prisons, social agencies, home health care, hospice, the Boys and Girls Club, Head Start, and the public schools,” Stiles said.

In May, SHSU nursing students will be able to engage in an international study opportunity by completing an intensive clinical experience in pediatric nursing in Costa Rica. Stiles also plans to go to China in the spring to visit with representatives at two universities that have expressed interest in partnering with SHSU’s nursing program in an exchange program. She also expects to visit three universities in Thailand to explore study abroad opportunities for nursing students.

“They need to learn about other cultures, and there is not better way than to personally experience those cultures,” she said.

Established in 2010 to develop well-trained, career-ready nurses to help meet the regional and national nursing shortage, SHSU’s nursing program has been on the “fast track” to becoming fully recognized.

“We completed our requirements and met our standards very quickly,” Stiles said. “It’s pretty unusual to be accredited for your first graduating class.”

Moreover, it appears that additional recognition is right around the corner.

“Not only have we been accredited by ACEN, but we have also completed our self-study for the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and they will be making a site visit in mid-October,” she said.

The program is also seeking full approval from the Texas Board of Nursing.

“We received initial approval from the board when we began the program,” she said. “Once they’ve given initial approval, they return two years later after you have your first graduating class for another site visit.

“Representatives from the board came in April and met with community members, faculty, students and administrators,” she said. “Their report following the visit was extremely positive. They were amazed at how much we had accomplished in such a short time and that we were already pending accreditation at that time.”

The board will vote in October on full approval; however, programs that are accredited are automatically approved.

“We’re pretty excited about that,” Stiles said. “It’s a huge accomplishment.”



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