The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing has granted Dona Ana Community College candidacy status for its nursing program. The response from the ACEN clears the way for DACC to set up a site visit within the next two years, on a path that may restore its national accreditation.
"We appreciate this opportunity from ACEN so we can move forward with the accreditation of our nursing program," said Interim President Andy Burke. "My thanks to the faculty, staff and students for their efforts to help us with this important step. We recognize there is lots of hard work ahead and we are committed to the process."
Candidate status does not guarantee a program will receive initial accreditation, but provides the program with an opportunity to enter the next phase of the process.
"Our faculty is excited about this next phase and realize there is still a lot of work to be done," said DACC Nursing Program Director Tracy Lopez.
Based on DACC's presentation in September, the ACEN provided guidance on areas for development that the program should focus on in preparation for a site visit. Evaluating the length of the nursing program curriculum is among the steps DACC will need to take along with a "self study" already underway, which evaluates six criteria for nursing program accreditation.
"Over the coming year, DACC will be sending its faculty to training forums on the ACEN standards and criterion and will begin working on documents that must be submitted for the initial accreditation visit," Lopez said.
In the meantime, current nursing students at DACC are not impacted by the decision.
"If we are granted initial accreditation within this two-year time frame, student's graduating within the semester accreditation is granted and going forward would be considered graduates of a nationally accredited nursing program," Lopez said. "This opens up more job opportunities and more options for continuing their nursing education."