Sunday, 11 September 2016

Accreditation and Scholarship

Accreditation and scholarship of staff for professional programs is not an option but a requirement.

I am a nurse, and I am an educator, both of these professions require that I am registered and part of an accredited body to teach in the profession of nursing. In the past three years, the BSN program at VCC was accredited by two external organizations, CRNBC (the college of nurses in BC) and CASN (Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing) are both involved in the accreditation process of the BSN programs.
CRNBC assessed the BSN program three years ago. CRNBC is mandated by the Health Professions Act of BC (British Columbia) to regulate Registered Nurses (RN) and Nurse Practitioners (NP) and that includes their education. So the entries to practice standards are set by the CRNBC, and therefore the schools of nursing in BC are then assessed to ensure that they are teaching the students to a level that prepared them to safely practice with the public of BC. That program assessment is outlined in the “Nursing Education Program and Course Review Policies”. This document contains the information on how reviewers are chosen and states that the review must occur at least every seven years. The program is assessed on three standards:
    “Curriculum -  provides the learning experiences necessary for students to achieve the RN entry-level competencies and Standards of Practice (CRNBC, n.d., pp. 7-8)
    Students -  demonstrate progress toward the achievement of the competencies and Standards of Practice (CRNBC, n.d., pp. 7-8)
    Graduates - of the nursing education program achieve the competencies and Standards of Practice.” (CRNBC, n.d., pp. 7-8)
Each of these standards has a set of indicators that is assessed by the reviewers. The reviewers then bring it to the CRNBC board, which includes RN’s as well as members of the public a standard that is required by the public. CRNBC recognizes CASN accreditation and therefore documents created for CASN can be used in the CRNBC review. (CRNBC, n.d., p. 17)
    CASN accredits all schools of nursing in Canada. As far as I can tell this accreditation is still voluntary, but as the accreditation becomes more recognized, it becomes more desirable (CASN, n.d.). This accreditation reviews both the college and the program of nursing (CASN, 2014, p. 4). The program is evaluated on Relevance, Accountability, Relatedness, and Uniqueness (CASN, 2014, pp. 8-9). I remember long reports were written on all the elements that were to be reviewed. Leadership, Partnerships, Resources, Teaching and Learning, Environment, Scholarship of the faculty, Program Framework, Knowledge Based Practice, Professional Growth of the students, and finally Evaluation are all elements that are considered during a CASN accreditation. Accreditation takes time for all the staff of the program. 
    CASN, CRNBC and CNA (Canadian Nurses Association) promote life-long learning and maintenance of practice competencies through learning (CNA, 2000). It was during the first year of teaching that I started the CASN Nurse Educator course. Due to unforeseen family circumstances I was not able to complete the course but am further to motivated to return and complete it because it also gives me a CNA specialty certificate in nursing education. It was when the CASN accreditation was being presented that I realized I needed to complete my nursing degree. I had a masters in linguistics, and a lot of prior experiences so had been “grandmother”’ed into teaching courses in the program. The element that encouraged this return to school was the scholarship element of school assessment. I have now completed that degree and will be able to return to the learning opportunities offered by CASN for nursing instructors both clinical and classroom teaching.
The scholarship element has also encouraged me in other ways. It is important to produce some professional works as an instructor and to that end I will be going to a research conference in fall. What I do find discouraging though both when I was working as a clinical nurse on the wards and now when I am teaching is the difficulty to find time to do the research needed for proper scholarship. Our program is small. Therefore the number of faculty is very small and keeping up to maintaining a current program, teaching and preparation is very difficult. The time needed for all these activities plus the rigors of scholarship make the work of a nursing educator very busy. It is particularly difficult for those who are term instructors and still working in the clinical areas while they are teaching. An article I read even questioned the benefits of “sessional instructors” (Peters, Jackson, Andrew, Halcomb, & Salamonson, 2011). My concern is not so much the benefits of those instructors but our ability to be able to mentor and encourage them in a timely manner while we do scholarship. The college funding of programs is less conducive to the practice of scholarship as well.
So as a nurse, I get the opportunity to participate in life-long learning in my profession as prescribed by the CRNBC and CNA. As an educator, I get the chance to take courses like this PIDP (Provincial Instructor Diploma Program) to hone my skills as an instructor. It is as a nursing instructor that I must engage in scholarship as prescribed by CASN. I may need to work on a doctorate some day, but without a doubt, I will be expected to write about some element of nursing education. It is that writing that will require research and life-long learning to be an effective nurse educator.

CASN, (2014). CASN Accreditation Program Standards (Version 5), Ottawa. Retrieved on September 11, 2016 from
CASN, (n.d.) CASN, Accreditation, Ottawa. Retrieved on September 11, 2016 from
CNA, (2000). Position Statement: Promoting Continuing Competence For Registered Nurses, Ottawa. Retrieved on September 11, 2016 from
CRNBC, (n.d.). Nursing Education Program and Course Review Policies, Vancouver. Retrieved on September 11, 2016 from

Peters, K., Jackson, D., Andrew, S., Halcomb, E. J., & Salamonson, Y. (2011). Burden versus benefit: Continuing nurse academics' experiences of working with sessional teachers. Contemporary Nurse: A Journal For The Australian Nursing Profession, 38(1/2), 35-44.

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