The Essentials of Preparing Faculty for an Accreditation Visit

Tuesday, 31 October 2017: 8:20 AM

Wendy J. Waldspurger Robb, PhD
Nursing Department, Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA, USA

“Program accreditation is a process based on a set of professional expectations and standards meant to signal competency and credibility” (Pavlakis & Kelley, 2016, p. 68). Kremer and Horton (2016) describe the responsibility of the nurse faculty member in the accreditation process as an essential component of the role. However, compliance with accreditation standards and the detailed documentation process associated with proving this excellence is often seen as the work of administrators.

Requests to engage in the accreditation process can create some levels of anxiety and panic among faculty members who are novice or unfamiliar with the regulatory bodies’ expectations (Bucalos, 2014). Lewis (2016) examined university faculty’s perceptions regarding accreditation and determined that lack of time was a major theme, as was the necessity of achieving accreditation for the purposes of recognition and advertising. In their study on national college nursing faculty job satisfaction, Lee, Miller, Kippenbrock, Rosen, and Emory (2017) identified the pressure exerted by the accrediting bodies, as felt by faculty, to be in compliance, meet expected program outcomes, accomplish the mission, and be sufficiently prepared for areas in which they teach. They explain that without achieving and maintaining accreditation, institutions are negatively impacted with declining student enrollment and the inability to attract and retain highly qualified faculty. In addition, the added pressure related to accreditation is a significant factor contributing to faculty vacancies (Lee et al., 2017).

The accreditation/re-accreditation process is dynamic and complex with many moving components. It has become more complicated over the last 20 years and has alienated faculty who do not feel confident in their knowledge or ability to successfully contribute to the process. Bucalos (2014) shared that faculty often feel like outsiders “on the fringe” of the accreditation process. Yet, Greenberg (2012) declares that it is vital for faculty to participate to the fullest extent in the accreditation process. Faculty who are more engaged in the accreditation process actually show accreditors that they are holistically interested in the students’ experiences and success (Bucolas, 2014).

Attendees of this presentation will learn the advantages of having confident faculty who are actively engaged in the accreditation process. Nurse faculty leaders will review steps to conduct a self-assessment in order to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the faculty and identify any knowledge deficits. Innovative, essential strategies to remediate gaps in knowledge, build confidence, and encourage energetic involvement of faculty through valuable contributions in the process will be outlined. Interventions such as mock visits, accreditation champions, team building and competitions, gaming strategies, use of a scientific editor and other unique tactics that can assist in preparing the novice or the most seasoned faculty member for an upcoming site visit will be shared. At the end of the presentation, nurse faculty leaders will be able to design a plan for the implementation of essential strategies resulting in effective faculty preparation and productive engagement in their academic programs. “Should not the most vital element of our enterprise – the faculty – be made an integral part of the drive to defend it”? (Greenberg, 2012, para 14).