Nursing Accreditor Faces Loss of U.S. Recognition

June 16, 2015

An Education Department report urges the panel that advises the education secretary on accreditation issues to terminate federal recognition of the agency that accredits nursing programs and schools, known as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. The staff report to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity is the latest salvo in a long-running dispute between the commission and the National League for Nursing, the membership association for nursing educators, from which the accreditation commission separated in 1997 at the urging of the Education Department.

Then and now, the Education Department doubted whether the accrediting function operated with sufficient independence from the membership group. The two organizations have been unable to reach agreement over changes in the accreditor's bylaws that would allow it to operate independently.

In the report, released in advance of the advisory committee's June 1 meeting, Education Department staff members express concern "that ACEN could be subjected to interference in its operations by NLN or any other organization or individual other than its own Board of Commissioners," which "would severely affect the agency's compliance with the department's conflict of interest and separate and independent requirements."

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