Unaccredited nursing programs will gladly greet you, take your cash, and disgorge you into the job market where you will be at a serious drawback in comparison to graduates from approved programs. How does this work? State boards of nursing agree to educational institutions of nursing and have the power to shut down a nursing program. Their job is to protect the public, so if they are pleased that the university is doing an acceptable job of turning out certified, safe graduates who are passing the NCLEX at a good rate, they will agree to the program. This is done on a state-by-state level and approval is not the same as accreditation.
Two bodies take care of accreditation in the United States: the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission or NLNAC and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or CCNE. These bodies make sure national requirements and reliability of nursing curricula and are available completely to make sure the reliability of nursing education across the country. They do not have the power to shut down a college of nursing, but they can take their accreditation to sanction the system.
Why would a nursing university not be accredited? These organizations require master’s-prepared staff, and not all programs have enough teachers with this education, particularly programs for practical nursing staff. Accreditation is also expensive. The site visits cost the program money, as do the yearly account charges for the accrediting body. In addition, the university must often pay teachers for a longer period invested in planning for the visit by the accrediting body. And, of course, sometimes the university does not meet the national requirements established by the accrediting organizations for educational institutions of nursing.
Most nursing programs that are approved by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission say so noticeably on their publications or Web sites. If the program you are looking at does not say anything about accreditation, that is a red flag and should immediate investigation work. Do not be shy about asking, either. You’re about to spend a lot of cash on your nursing education and you do not want to reach the finish line only to find that it did not really count for anything.