SON Marks Year of Self Study, Accreditation and Program Review

The SON’s baccalaureate, master’s, PhD and continuing education programs each conducted rigorous self study reviews and underwent external reviews over the last academic year. As a result, the School’s baccalaureate and master’s programs were reaccredited for ten years by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The PhD program received a positive review by UNC-CH Graduate School representatives and external reviewers from other Schools of Nursing, and the Center for Lifelong Learning was re-accredited as a provider of continuing nurse education for four years.

“We should be very proud of meeting this challenge with such great success. Accreditation is a wonderful opportunity for self-assessment of our programs, structure, practices and processes and the thoughtful identification of areas for growth and change,” said Dr. Beverly Foster, director of undergraduate programs.

A key component of the BSN and MSN accreditation process was the self-study report the SON completed in 2011 and presented to the CCNE. Dr. Maggie Miller, assistant dean for operations and strategic initiatives, headed the faculty steering committee for the self-study report, which documented that the School met or exceeded the CCNE standards related to program quality and effectiveness.

The four-chapter self study spoke to the history and mission of the School and University, resources available to carry out the programs, development of curriculum and program outcomes. With faculty input, the study assessed the School’s administration, philosophy, curriculum, facilities, faculty, staff, students and more, using the process as an opportunity for quality improvement.

The CCNE self-study was also used as a basis for the North Carolina Board of Nursing’s decision to continue the baccalaureate nursing program on full approval status.

“Our national accreditation in nursing is built on a quality improvement model so that we are encouraged to constantly assess how well we are doing. We have now looked carefully at ourselves, and from these findings have identified some areas of focus to move forward into the future. It is an exciting time as we build on our solid foundation to be a pace setter in nursing education,” said Dr. Gwen Sherwood, associate dean for academic affairs.

PhD program faculty completed a self study for a Graduate School Program Review, assessing the program’s strengths, areas for improvement and future directions. The preparation of the self-study report was led by Dr. Suzanne Thoyre, director of PhD and post-doctoral programs. A team of UNC and external reviewers conducted a site visit and provided a highly favorable written report to the Graduate School detailing their findings and recommendations.

The SON’s Center for Lifelong Learning also underwent an accreditation review this year. The Center staff completed a self study in fall 2011 and submitted it to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The ANCC then conducted a virtual visit, interviewing CLL staff as well as past participants and presenters. The CLL was granted full accreditation by the ANCC through March 2016.

“The accreditation process helped our unit think about our many strengths and identify ways to improve so that we can continue to provide high quality CNE that’s relevant, cutting edge, and will ultimately help improve client care,” said Dr. Sonda Oppewal, director, Center for Lifelong Learning.

Dean Kristen M. Swanson expressed her congratulations for the School’s earned approvals.  “I’m very proud of the collective efforts of our faculty, staff, and students who came together for a successful year of programmatic self study, external review and accreditation,” said Dean Swanson. “It is a worthwhile pursuit to thoughtfully assess how well our actions measure up to our vision, and to identify ways to take that vision further.”


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