Students who want to pursue a nursing degree but prefer to study at a school with a Christian focus may wonder if a Christian school would have an accredited nursing program. The answer is that, like secular programs, it depends upon the school. Any school can offer nursing programs and issue diplomas, but the diploma does not guarantee that the programs adequately prepare students to take the NCLEX exam which is necessary to become licensed.
Why a Christian School
The most obvious answer to the question of why students choose a Christian nursing school is that they are people of faith. Christian colleges are often smaller schools, though, and some students may just prefer the increased faculty-student interaction that brings. Additionally, Christian schools tend to have a closer, more nurturing atmosphere. Some Christian schools are easier to get into. If students are looking for a school with lower admission standards, though, they should realize that Christian colleges may be accredited by church agencies or other organizations, but nursing programs have only two primary accrediting organizations.
What Accreditation Means
There are organizations such as the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission, which accredits all levels of nursing programs including certificates and associate degrees and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, which only accredits programs that lead to a baccalaureate or master’s degrees. There are a couple of other acknowledged accrediting agencies that accredit midwifery and nurse anesthetist programs. Christian accrediting agencies also exist, and many fine schools hold those accreditations, but nursing programs generally should also be accredited by one of the two mentioned organizations. These organizations usually consist of licensed nurses who identify and set standards ensuring programs teach the skills and knowledge base essential for practicing nurses. Accreditation by these agencies means a school or program meets these standards.
Accreditation is Vital
Students who graduate from a school that does not have an accredited nursing program can still sit for the NCLEX. Accreditation is voluntary, but most programs seek it. New schools may not be accredited because one requisite for the endorsement is the graduation of at least one class. Schools may forego accreditation because it is costly and is a long process. The absence of accreditation does not necessarily mean the nursing program isn’t a good one; accreditation just makes quality more probable. Students who graduate from an unaccredited nursing school that has state approval may still be eligible to take the NCLEX. Additionally, if schools have applied for accreditation and been denied, there could be a problem with their curriculum, their faculty, lack of needed resources, or even their learning outcome which is reflected in the pass/fail rate of students taking the NCLEX.
One problem with graduating from a non-accredited program is that most graduate nursing programs in secular or in Christian schools require a degree from an accredited baccalaureate program. That means students might have a problem if they choose to get a higher degree such as nurse practitioner. Another difficulty, according to the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, is that attending an unaccredited program could limit a student’s access to federal or state student aid.
Although the focus of a Christian nursing program may be different than that of a secular program, the curriculum and quality of education should be similar.
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