Nursing degree programs honored

Story by Anna Soldner

The UW-Eau Claire School of Nursing has long been noted for its excellence, receiving national recognition for its strong dedication to teaching, practice and service in the discipline.

This December, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences received further validation when the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education granted a full, 10-year reaccreditation to the baccalaureate and master’s degree programs along with a five-year accreditation for the new doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program.

The nursing program now has full support from their accrediting body and maximum time for new program development, said Dr. Linda Young, who was recently named Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

“It’s been a privilege to come to this college and take on the role as dean with a program fully accredited for 10 years — the undergrad and masters — and the maximum of our DNP program for five years,” Dr. Young said.

Dr. Young also said the accreditation launches the DNP program in great standing.

To be recognized with such a distinction requires a thorough accreditation process of investigation and review. Sheila Smith, assistant dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, explains that the application process involves extensive evaluation from a team of nursing program representatives before being turned to a board that makes the final decision.

“There’s typically two or three years of pretty concerted effort toward ensuring that we meet the accreditation standards, and then a very involved self-study process,” Smith said. “So the result is a lengthy document that addresses each of the accreditation standards and key elements.”

Young said the nursing program’s recent award has provided a real confidence boost during tougher times.

“[Being accredited] means we can focus and move forward our energies what we want to accomplish as a department of nursing, and we do not need to dwell on rectifying areas of deficit,” Young said.

Senior Jessica Miller, an Undergraduate Curriculum Committee member and nursing major, said she is confident that being
accredited will aid in post-graduate employment.

“The Eau Claire nursing program has a really high name and other hospitals think highly of the students from Eau Claire,” she said. “Getting reaccredited just continues that standard and enables me to graduate and get a job, eventually.”

The reaccreditation for the baccalaureate and master’s degree programs expires Dec. 31, 2021 and the accreditation for the DNP program expires Dec. 31, 2016.

“Eau Claire has a lot of passionate and diverse nursing faculty,” Miller said. “I’ve really created a lot of good relationships with my instructors, and they’ve created a lot of opportunities for me, too.”