Virginia Western Community College announces that it has received initial accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) for its Associate of Applied Science Degree in Nursing program. In order to be recognized with this national accreditation, the program underwent a comprehensive and rigorous review process for more than two years to evaluate its quality and effectiveness on multiple levels.

“I am so proud of Virginia Western’s nursing faculty and staff who have committed whole-heartedly to this process in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of their program and curriculum,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “As an institution, we are fortunate to reside in a healthcare-focused region, and our students are an ongoing and integral part of elevating the level of care that is provided. The ACEN accreditation will help us serve our students, our area healthcare providers and our community better.”

This national accreditation indicates to the general public and to the educational community that Virginia Western’s nursing program has clear and appropriate educational objectives and is working to achieve those objectives, and demonstrates Virginia Western’s commitment to providing a strong quality nursing program focused on excellence in nursing education. The program is in compliance with established standards and criteria in the context of its mission and philosophy as well as it its current and future nursing practice.

“Undergoing the rigorous voluntary peer-reviewed ACEN accreditation process demonstrates Virginia Western’s AAS nursing program can be trusted to deliver quality education,” said Marilyn Herbert-Ashton, the Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Dean of Nursing. “This achievement could not have been accomplished without the support of Dr. Sandel, leadership by nursing program director Lauren Hayward and our stellar nursing faculty.”

In order to begin the accreditation process, Virginia Western demonstrated its compliance with several key standards, resulting in a candidacy award on Jan. 18, 2018. The program provided a written self-study within a year of candidacy and hosted a site visit in March 2019. Reviewers conducted a comprehensive assessment, meeting with students, faculty, college administrators and staff, community partners, clinical affiliates and alumni. They also held a public forum and solicited public comment on the program. The site visitors verified, amplified and clarified the program’s compliance with six ACEN standards.

An ACEN evaluation review panel conducted an independent analysis of the site visitors’ report and related data. The ACEN Board of Governors voted on both the review panel’s and site visitors’ reports on Sept. 12, 2019, granting initial five-year accreditation.

The initial accreditation officially went into effect retroactively on Jan. 18, 2018. Students who graduated beginning in May 2018 will receive the full benefits of ACEN accreditation. There are 131 students currently enrolled in the AAS Nursing Program. The application period for the Fall 2020 cohort is currently open and will close March 1, 2020. An advanced placement option for those students with a Practical Nurse License is Nov. 10, 2019.

“This is a transformative process that has helped us focus on a student-centered approach. It truly highlights the partnership between students and faculty in an effort to create the most well-rounded nurses,” said Hayward. “The result of this partnership extends from the student to the program to the community. We wouldn’t be where we are without the support of our community partners and for that we are eternally grateful.”

Interested applicants can register now and plan to attend the upcoming mandatory nursing program information sessions. For steps, visit: www.virginiawestern.edu/academics/health/nursing/apply.php