The Importance of an Accredited Nursing School

If you're interested in pursuing a career in nursing, there's a lot to consider. Are you planning to become an RN or an LPN, or do you want to take the shortest possible training course to work as a nurse's aide while continuing your studies? Is online classroom, or on-the-job training best for you?

In addition to these important questions, another critical consideration for prospective nurses is whether they should choose an accredited nursing school. Is there a substantial difference in the quality of education that comes with accreditation?

Should I choose an accredited nursing school?

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a special credential held by many nursing schools, certifying that the school meets certain requirements in terms of its curriculum, faculty, campus, and levels of excellence achieved by the student body.

The National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) is the accrediting body for all types of nursing education, while the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits only masters and bachelor degree programs. The standards applied by these groups are virtually the same for every nursing program, so in addition to these parameters, accreditation guarantees that a school will include certain components and criteria as part of their educational curriculum.

Whether or not a nursing school receives accreditation, it can also be approved by its respective state board of nursing. This recognition is not as significant as formal accreditation by the NLNAC or CCNE, but it does speak to the quality of education and the level of preparation students receive for the NCLEX nursing certificate exams.

Advantages of Choosing an Accredited School

Typically, accreditation attests to an improved quality of the education a school will provide. This isn't always the case—it is possible for a school to deliver a top-notch education even if some of the criteria for accreditation aren't fulfilled—but accreditation guarantees that certain ideals are met and may provide a better education than a school that is not accredited.

Attending an accredited school also increases your hiring appeal. Many employers prefer to hire nurses who come from accredited schools because it marks a dedication to high-quality training and education.

If you’re considering continuing your nursing education at a later date, it's especially important that you attend an accredited school for your initial coursework. Most bachelor and masters degree programs will accept students with LPN or RN qualifications (usually through an "LPN to BSN" or "RN to BSN" bridge program), but it's much more difficult to get accepted to a bridge program without previous education at an accredited school. If you obtain your LPN or RN training from a non-accredited institution, you may be forced to repeat some earlier coursework to complete your BSN or higher education.

Disadvantages of Choosing an Accredited School

The biggest drawback of attending an accredited nursing school is that it will usually cost more than a similar degree at a non-accredited school. The difference in price allows the accredited nursing school to cover the steep fees required to obtain and maintain their accredited status.

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