June 13, 2003
Two years of hard work, planning, and scrutiny has earned the University of Maine at Fort Kent division of nursing the best possible result in an accreditation review process by the nation's top nursing college review body.
Official word reached the Fort Kent campus nursing program last week that the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) has awarded the university a full ten-year accreditation with no recommendations.
"The Board determined that the program met all four accreditation standards. The Board additionally determined that there are no compliance concerns with respect to the key elements," wrote CCNE Board of Commissioners chair Charlotte Beason in her notification letter to UMFK nursing division director and chair Rachel Albert.
The four standards reviewed by CCNE were the strength of the program's mission and governance, the institution's commitment to the program, the curriculum and teaching learning practices, and student performance and faculty accomplishments.
"I am elated about the decision by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education Board to grant a 10-year accreditation to UMFK's nursing program with no recommendations. The decision validates the strength of the nursing program, and through continuous quality improvement measures will only continue to be enhanced," said Albert.
The review undertaken by the nationally recognized accrediting agency devoted exclusively to the evaluation of four-year programs in nursing education, was the most extensive in the UMFK nursing program's 22-year history.
The CCNE had sent a team of three professional reviewers to the Fort Kent campus early last October to meet with various campus and community individuals and groups and to assess the curriculum of the nursing program to determine if a full ten-year accreditation would be granted.
"We sought this accreditation to ensure to current and prospective students that we have a credible, legitimate program of study. It also communicates to the public that we have a strong program," said Albert.
This did not mark the first time UMFK's nursing program was reviewed for national accreditation. In 1995, the program received the stamp of approval from the National League of Nursing, and in 1998, the CCNE granted preliminary approval to the campus. In addition, the Maine State Board of Nursing accredited the program in 1997, and again this past year.
The CCNE evaluation is a voluntary process the division of nursing at UMFK had requested to undergo through the commission. The site visit last fall was one step in a multi-step process.
In preparation of, and throughout the evaluation process faculty and staff in the UMFK nursing division engaged in a rigorous self-study, which resulted in a university authored, several hundred-page report that was submitted to the CCNE.
The report was provided to site evaluators who held a series of meetings with UMFK students, faculty, staff, and administrators, as well as community members, including those on the university's nursing advisory council.
The UMFK bachelor of science in nursing program is one of only three within the University of Maine System, and the only such program north of Bangor. It offers students two options, a four-year entry-level track and a distance education RN to BSN track.
The program is comprised of four nursing faculty who specialize in community health, adult health, maternal/child health, and psychiatric mental health. Also on staff are a nursing resource center manager and administrative assistant.
UMFK's nursing program has signed articulation agreements with Kennebec Valley Technical College, Northern Maine Technical College, University of Maine at Augusta, University of Maine at Farmington, and the University of Maine at Presque Isle.