*iStock photo
*iStock photo

Statement by Education Minister Nalton Brangman

Madam President, you will recall that 2 weeks ago, Senator Fahey provided an update on the funding being provided for the Bermuda College’s Associate of Science in Nursing programme. 

Today I am pleased to provide an update on Bermuda College’s process for international accreditation for the Associate of Science Degree in Nursing (ADN) with the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

The Vision for the Nursing Education Pathway and the ADN is to be recognized locally and internationally for delivering quality, innovative, nursing education and for promoting excellence in nursing practice.

Madam President, Bermuda College has submitted an application for candidacy with the ACEN as we seek to join other international countries like Scotland, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands in obtaining international accreditation with ACEN.

The Accreditation Commission for Nursing Education (ACEN) was formally the National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). It provides specialized accreditation for nursing education by supporting the interests of nursing education, nursing practice and the public.

Madam President, the ACEN asserts that accreditation is a voluntary, self-regulatory process by which educational institutions or programmes meet or exceed standards and criteria for educational quality.  The process includes an external review and an affirmation of values. Accreditation would also ensure continuous quality improvement by improving resources invested, processes followed and results achieved.

The accreditation application process is not unique for Bermuda. All nursing programmes whether a Diploma, Associate, Bachelors or Master’s degree must follow the same application process to be accredited.  The ACEN is the only organization in the United States that grants accreditation to Practical, Diploma and Associate degree nursing programmes.

Madam President, Bermuda College is delighted and grateful that ACEN has given International nursing programs the opportunity to adhere to best practice guidelines for nursing education and to be included in the accreditation process.

Madam President in order to apply for candidacy and subsequent accreditation, the following must be in place:

Placement within a governing organization that is accredited by an approved accrediting agency or holds unconditional approval by the appropriate regulatory agency that has legal authority for education programmes.  As you are aware, the Bermuda College obtained accreditation with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) in 2010.

Placement within a governing organization that is authorized to grant the credential awarded at the completion of the program.

Finally, the nursing programme must have commenced; hence, the process for accreditation could not start until the programme commenced in January of this year.  The normal requirement for international programmes is that the programme has to be in operation for a minimum of 5 years and have graduated a minimum of three classes of nursing graduates. As Bermuda College is accredited by a US accrediting body, the College has requested that the 5 year minimum be waived and it be allowed to follow the process for US institutions which is the programme has one (1) class of students in the final semester or quarter at the time of the site visit or graduates of the programme.  Hence the request for candidacy having already been submitted.

Madam President after candidacy is granted there is a comprehensive four step process:

Programme self-review and Self- Study Report

Site visit conducted by peer evaluators resulting in the Site Visitors’ Report

A peer Evaluation Review Panel examines the reports written by and about the programme

Review of the process and the decision on accreditation status by the ACEN Board of Commissioners.

This 4-step process is to be completed in 2 years from the date of obtaining candidacy.

Madam President, members may be wondering what happens to those students currently enrolled in the programme. The Nursing Rules state that a general nurse is a person who “is qualified in nursing by virtue of having graduated from an approved or accredited nursing education programme that is recognized by the Council; and is licensed or registered as a registered nurse (RN) in Bermuda or in another jurisdiction that is recognized by the Council.”  As stated earlier the programme has been approved by the Bermuda Nursing Council; thus, students who pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) will meet the criteria to be a general nurse.

Madam President, accreditation comes with a cost and Bermuda College remains committed to this as a priority; hence, they have included the cost of accreditation in the budget for fiscal year 2014.  This includes the cost of an ACEN professional staff member to serve as a mentor as we go through the process.

Madam President, the Associate of Science in Nursing programme was established with accreditation in mind and the curriculum was developed using the ACEN’s 6 standards and criteria for an associate in nursing programme. Bermuda College has also been able to attract an experienced Bermudian nurse educator to return home to teach full-time in the programme along with other masters-degree prepared professional nurses to teach part-time.  

The accreditation process will involve all key stakeholders in nursing education including: the Bermuda Hospitals Board, the Department of Health, Bermuda Nursing Council, Bermuda Nursing Association; and the role that each entity plays is well defined. 

Bermuda College also has established the Nursing Education Pathway Strategic Team and the Nursing Education Pathway Team (Curriculum) which includes all key stakeholders to ensure that everyone that is required to be involved is involved in the accreditation process.

Thank you Madam President!