STORRS, Conn.– The School of Nursing at the University of Connecticut has been re-accredited for a full 10-year term by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the national accrediting agency for schools of nursing.
“All the standards were met,” said Margaret Jackman, associate director of the CCNE. “There were no citations. UConn gets a clean bill of health.”
Laura Cox Dzurec, dean of the school said, “This is excellent news. It indicates that we’re doing everything we should be doing to educate the nurses of tomorrow, and it says that we’re doing it well. It was especially gratifying to hear Connecticut health care providers telling the accrediting team how impressed they were with the UConn graduates they’ve hired.”
The school’s graduates enjoy a 100 percent placement rate.
Dzurec and University President Philip E. Austin received the letter announcing the CCNE’s findings last week.
During the accrediting team’s three-day visit in late February, interviews were conducted at hospitals and health care agencies across the state; with alumni of the School of Nursing; employers; faculty and staff in the school and at UConn; University administrators; students; and others. They also reviewed an exhaustive self-study, measuring several inches thick, prepared by an accreditation team in the school.
“One of the good things that comes out of an accreditation review, which is a huge process, is that it points out areas where you can focus your energies to improve,” says Dzurec.
Nursing students must follow demanding curriculum, which, by their junior year, includes 18 hours of face-to-face clinical work each week, in addition to their classes, homework, and preparation for the clinical work.
“The program demands a lot of maturity,” says Dzurec.
Despite the effort, there is no shortage of students who would like to test their mettle. Kathe Gable, director of community and public relations at the school, says there were more than 700 applications this year for approximately 100 seats in the freshman class. Eventually, 105 enrolled. Overall, there are about 640 undergraduates enrolled in the school, more than 80 master’s degree candidates, and more than 30 students pursuing doctoral degrees – an important number since national agencies are predicting a shortage of 40,000-60,000 nurses as America ages in coming decades, and there are not enough University faculty to teach the budding health providers.
“The saddest part is that schools are turning away qualified students because of the lack of faculty,” says Jackman, from CCNE. “There is no shortage of bright, young, eager students who would love to join the profession.”
UConn’s nursing school has 20 full-time teaching faculty and 11 full-time clinical faculty. There also are about 50 part-time clinical faculty, who help with the large number of students putting in their clinical hours at hospitals and health care agencies. The faculty/student ratio is 1:8.
The accreditation team gave the school’s bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs solid marks in all four areas of emphasis, and in all 39 elements that comprise those areas. The areas of emphasis include alumni and employer satisfaction; demonstrated effort toward quality improvement; amount and quality of resources committed to the program, faculty qualifications, and resources provided to students; and the school’s fit with the University’s mission.
Doctoral programs are not examined by the CCNE.
Similar to University-wide accreditation – which is only two years away for UConn – the School of Nursing must submit an extensive five-year report to the CCNE detailing its progress and continued compliance with the CCNE’s standards and elements.