ROCK SPRINGS – After a two-year application and review process, the Nursing Program at Western Wyoming Community College has been notified of its accreditation approval by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) Board of Commissioners. The accreditation was effective July 10, 2015, when the ACEN Board of Commissioners reviewed and approved Western’s applications for initial accreditation.
“We are very excited to have our accreditation back after having lost it in 2012,” said Director of Nursing Kathy Luzmoor, who received an official letter of notification from ACEN on Wednesday. “This is verification that our program, which has been very good, continues to be very good and now has that seal of approval by an accrediting body. We enjoyed accredited status for quite a few years, so it’s very, very good to have it back. The faculty and staff are delighted.”
The College’s accreditation is good for five years. Although Western’s Nursing Program had been continuously accredited by ACEN from 1999-2012, its current accreditation status is considered to be an “initial” accreditation, since the program’s previous accreditation lapsed in 2012. That was due to changes in the interpretation of accreditation standards related to faculty members without master’s degrees, an issue the College successfully addressed by ensuring that all nursing faculty have their master’s preparation. In 2020, Western will apply for continuing accreditation approval as part of ACEN’s normal five-year renewal cycle.
“We are thrilled to announce this fantastic news to our campus, our students and our community stakeholders,” said Western President Karla Leach. “Three years ago, we promised our students and our healthcare partners in Southwest Wyoming that we would regain our ACEN accreditation, which serves as an important benchmark of excellence for high-quality nursing programs nationwide. I want to thank Kathy Luzmoor and her faculty and staff for their diligent efforts in preparing our program for this rigorous application and review process. We all have enjoyed working with ACEN’s evaluators throughout this process, and we are pleased that everyone’s hard work has returned Western’s Nursing Program to accredited status.”
ACEN’s candidacy and approval process involves the preparation of multiple reports detailing every aspect of Western’s program and curriculum. The College’s application for candidacy was approved in July 2014.
“From July 2014 until December 2014, we worked very diligently to prove that we met, and in many cases exceeded, ACEN’s standards and criteria,” Luzmoor said. “In December, we submitted a 250-page document in preparation for our site visit in February. The site visit went very, very well. The three evaluators who came were very pleased with our program and recommended accreditation. In June, a second panel of evaluators read all of the documents, including the documents from the site evaluators, and they also recommended accreditation. But it wasn’t until July 9 and 10 that the ACEN Board of Commissioners met, and it was their final say.
“We are very glad that this day is here and that we can move on, and we’re very glad to have our accreditation back,” she added.
Western’s Associate of Science in Nursing Program is celebrating its 25th year this year, and it will enroll 32 freshman nursing students in the fall. With the accreditation process complete, faculty and staff will direct their efforts toward new curriculum development in collaboration with the state’s other college nursing programs as part of ReNew (Revolutionizing Nursing Education in Wyoming).
“It’s statewide curriculum development that all community colleges and the University of Wyoming will use, and it will make transition to a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year institution much easier,” Luzmoor said.