1. Pullen, Richard L. Jr. EdD, MSN, RN, CMSRN, CNE-cl, ANEF

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Q: Why should my organization pursue accreditation?

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A: Accreditation demonstrates accountability and responsibility for ensuring quality, safety, and continuous improvement in healthcare and academic settings.1-6 This voluntary process includes a self-review of an organization's standards and criteria and an external peer review ensuring that these standards and criteria have met expected levels of achievement.1-6 The accrediting body, such as The Joint Commission, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, requires an organization to prepare a self-study report (SSR) with initial application for accreditation and every 5 to 10 years thereafter.1-5 The accrediting body analyzes the SSR and conducts an on-site visit.1,3 The accrediting body's board of commissioners may recommend initial accreditation, continuing accreditation (reaffirmation) with or without stipulations, or denial of accreditation.


Keep in mind that there's a difference between accrediting and approval bodies. For example, the state board of nursing's (BON's) mission is to protect the welfare of the public through safe nursing practices in all organizations, which must comply with the rules and regulations of the BON to be in operation.7 The BON is an approval entity, not an accrediting body.7 State BON approval is mandatory, not voluntary like accreditation.7


Selected benefits of accreditation include:1-6


* improving transparency and communication within an organization and to the public that the organization meets professional standards


* offering recognition of quality services to peers and the public


* promoting employee recruitment and professional development


* enhancing risk management strategies and reducing risks


* establishing an organization's commitment to having high standards to compete with other organizations


* providing mechanisms for the timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment of patients


* decreasing lengths of hospital stay through efficient services


* increasing financial reimbursement by meeting organizational outcomes


* strengthening relationships among people in an organization and community partners


* supplying a mechanism to collect, measure, and analyze data to improve organizational efficiency through quality improvement processes


* enabling the transferability of courses from one college or university to the next and for admission to graduate programs


* presenting students with useful information about a nursing program, such as the program of study, faculty qualifications, available resources, NCLEX pass rates, student satisfaction, and employer satisfaction with program graduates


* allowing students to receive financial aid from state and federal agencies


* holding a nursing program accountable to communities of interest such as the nursing profession, employers, and the community.



Accreditation ensures that a quality improvement process is in place to provide services based on best practices. Quality improvement processes need to be data-driven, resulting in quality, safety, and satisfaction through the attainment of expected levels of achievement. Accreditation helps assure the public that a healthcare or academic organization meets or exceeds rigorous standards.




1. Lam MB, Figueroa JF, Feyman Y, Reimold KE, Orav EJ, Jha AK. Association between patient outcomes and accreditation in US hospitals: observational study. BMJ. 2018;363:k4011. [Context Link]


2. The Joint Commission. What is accreditation?


3. Araujo CAS, Siqueira MM, Malik AM. Hospital accreditation impact on healthcare quality dimensions: a systematic review. Int J Qual Health Care. 2020;32(8):531-544. [Context Link]


4. Congressional Research Service. An overview of accreditation of higher education in the United States. 2020.


5. Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. What is accreditation? [Context Link]


6. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. CCNE accreditation process. [Context Link]


7. National Council of State Boards of Nursing. About US regulatory bodies. [Context Link]