New Accreditation Signals Advancing Nursing Education, Resources for Region

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University has earned a seal of approval from the leading accrediting body for baccalaureate and advanced degree nursing programs.

The accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education affirms Columbus State’s School of Nursing meets or exceeds the nation’s highest standards to prepare and advance the training of nursing professionals.

The designation follows moves by Columbus State to better serve registered, working nurses through a planned online master’s program, in addition to a recently updated two-track bachelor’s program. 

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education logo Columbus State this month launched an online undergraduate program for registered nurses as part of its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

“Our new RN track is fully online and offered year-round in 8- to 10-week sessions to accommodate registered nurses working full-time,” said professor Sheri Noviello, associate director of CSU’s nursing school. “It complements our traditional pre-licensure track.” 

Noviello, who becomes the nursing school’s interim director when June Goyne retires Nov. 30, said the accreditation also is well-timed with plans for a new online Master of Science in Nursing Education and Administration program. Pending University System of Georgia Board of Regents approval, the program will be offered in cooperation with Clayton State University’s CCNE-accredited nursing school.

College of Education and Health Professions Interim Dean Ellen Roberts said accreditation by the CCNE is an indicator of quality.

“It says to prospective students, other institutions and the community that our nursing graduates meet the highest standards of professional preparation,” she said. “We have every reason to be proud of our faculty and programs in the School of Nursing and value the contribution they make to the delivery of excellent health care in Columbus and the region.”

The CCNE designation is retroactive to a March 2010 site visit by commission representatives and replaces Columbus State’s accreditation from the National League of Nurses Accreditation Commission, which extends to certificate and associate degree programs.

The CCNE accredits baccalaureate and higher programs only, making it a better fit for Columbus State, which has focused its nursing curriculum on bachelor’s and master’s level programs, said Noviello.

Noviello credits a “group effort” by the CSU nursing faculty in writing a self-study and preparing the school for the site visit. “The CCNE team highlighted our faculty as a strength of the program, through both observation and discussion with students during their site visit.”

Overall, CCNE officials determined Columbus State meets or exceeds four categories of standards for effectively delivering bachelor’s and master’s programs, as recognized by U.S. Secretary of Education:

• Mission and governance
• Institutional commitment and resources
• Curriculum and teaching-learning practices
• Student performance and faculty accomplishments

The new designation provides Columbus State with resources from CCNE’s parent organization, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. “Our faculty and staff have a new source of networking and professional development opportunities that cover best practices and other current trends and developments in the field,” Noviello said.

The accreditation and new online offerings, plus a recent $1 million grant jointly from St. Francis Hospital and Columbus Regional Healthcare System, also reflect Columbus State positioning itself to answer a projected, statewide 22-percent increase in the demand for registered nurses, according to the Georgia Department of Labor, over the next eight years.

Columbus State’s CCNE accreditation is effective through 2015, with subsequent reaccreditation covering up to 10 years.

For more about the CCNE and American Association of Colleges of Nursing, go to http://www.aacn.nche.edu/. For more on Columbus State’s School of Nursing, go to http://nursing.columbusstate.edu/.