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Nikasha N Dicks
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Practical Nursing Program Receives ’Mark of Excellence’

(May 16, 2016, Aiken, SC) Aiken Technical College’s licensed practical nursing (LPN) program has added another accreditation to its list of achievements.

The program has received initial accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), joining the College’s registered nurse program which is also accredited by the agency. Both programs meet the standards for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The LPN program is a one-year nursing diploma program that prepares students for career opportunities in fields such as long-term care and home-based care. Over the course of the program, students complete 400 plus clinical hours.

“It has always been a goal to seek accreditation by ACEN because of the higher standards we have to meet,” said Demica Williams, chairwoman of ATC’s nursing department. “People are familiar with the accreditation. It’s a mark of excellence.”

Seeking the accreditation was a lengthy process that lasted about two years.

“The process for initial accreditation is quite a tedious process,” said Dr. Hermecender Walton, Dean of Health Sciences at ATC. “For initial assessment, everything has to be perfect. If there are any areas that are lacking, then the initial accreditation is denied.”

The first year included going through the candidacy process and receiving approval to proceed with seeking accreditation, said Williams. The College had to submit a candidacy presentation that provided a snapshot of the program and its compliance with the current standards for ACEN.

The second year involved submitting a self-study report followed by an on-site visit from a team of representatives from other ACEN-accredited programs.

“When they visit, they are validating what you stated in the document,” said Williams of the site visit team. “Their terminology is that they come to ‘clarify, amplify and verify’ what you told them in your self-study report.”

The site visit includes interviews with current students in the program, faculty, staff and support personnel, administration, and other departments such as financial aid.

“It’s not just about nursing. It’s also about the care of the student and ensuring that we have student support services available,” said Williams.

In addition, there is a community interest aspect of the site visit, added Walton. The team visited and interviewed clinical sites, met with program’s advisory board, talked with local employers, and held a public community meeting for people to share their thoughts and perceptions of the program.

Following a site visit, the team writes a report based on their visit. The ACEN’s evaluation review panel then reviews the report and makes a recommendation to the agency’s board of commissioners which makes the final decision.

The College was notified of approval this spring.

“It is a major accomplishment for the program,” said Williams. “It speaks to the quality of the program and its compliance with all of the standards for accreditation.”

Walton echoed the sentiments crediting the department’s faculty for their dedication and efforts during the long process.

“I’m appreciative of all of the work the faculty has done and Demica has led,” she said. “It is not something that just comes out of nowhere. It takes hours of preparation to accomplish this.”

For more information about the LPN program and to apply, visit www.atc.edu.

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