ACEN Accredits SMC Nursing Program

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Four-year process began in 2014

ACEN requires three years of data to make sure a program meets the gold standard in the nursing world.

Southwestern Michigan College has been awarded five-year accreditation for its associate degree in nursing by ACEN, the Atlanta-based Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

SMC hosted a three-day site visit last September by three deans from Maryland, Pennsylvania and California, but the daunting four-year process actually began when the college sought to become an accreditation candidate in 2014.

“ACEN requires three years of data to make sure a program meets the gold standard in the nursing world,” Nursing and Health Services Dean Rebecca Jellison said. “It focuses on continuous improvement. One of our program outcomes is the pass rate on NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) — those who pass the NCLEX are certified to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN). This year we’ll graduate 33 students, and our pass rate, 85 percent, is better than the 81-percent national average.”

“I have a continuous-improvement plan calendar I live by. Every month at faculty meetings we look at different standards,” Jellison said. “When we go through this process again in 2022 this will be in our archive to write our self-study report. We had two years to complete our self-study, which we submitted last June.”

Jellison said eight faculty and her administrative assistant helped evaluate standards.

“(ACEN) looks at student work, your meeting minutes, everything with a fine-toothed comb,” she said. “They went to classrooms, met with the faculty and cabinet and we had to take them off-campus to hospitals to meet clinical people.”

“This accreditation, combined with the groundbreaking of our $9.6 million nursing building expansion, truly show SMC is a leading program to help the community,” SMC President Dr. David Mathews said. “It provides outstanding access to affordable, high-quality credentialing for students while meeting the workforce needs of area hospitals and health-care providers.”

The SMC Nursing Program is also approved by the Michigan Board of Nursing to provide education leading to an associate degree in nursing.

Southwestern Michigan College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, 30 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, IL, 60602-2504, 800.621.7440,


The ACEN accreditation program is founded on the belief that specialized accreditation contributes to the centrality of nursing for the public good and provides for the maintenance and enhancement of educational quality; continuous self assessment, planning and improvement. Accreditation indicates to the general public and to the educational community that a nursing program has clear and appropriate educational objectives and achieves these objectives. Emphasis is placed upon the total nursing program and complies with established standards and criteria in the context of current practice and anticipated future directions.

ACEN supports the continuation and strengthening of voluntary specialized accreditation by peers as a principal means of public accountability and ongoing improvement. Specialized accreditation sets standards for programs and insures, through the self-study process and accreditation review, the promotion of effective education and program improvement. The nursing education unit analysis is closely related to the institution itself. The responsibility of the institution lies with its faculty, administration and governing board, such that they must consider the overall well-being of the institution, not just a specific part or unit. Therefore, whenever possible, ACEN activities will be coordinated with other officially recognized regional and specialized accrediting bodies.

ACEN is located at 3343 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 850, Atlanta, GA 30326, 404-975-5000,

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