Two Alaska Pacific University (APU) nursing programs have received accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The announcement applies to the university’s associate degree and bachelor’s degree in nursing, both of which train healthcare workers desperately needed in Alaska.
The ACEN accreditation demonstrates that APU’s programs have passed an external quality review and recognizes that the university is providing an effective education focused on quality patient care. The announcement followed a two-year review process, including a virtual site visit and interviews with faculty members and current students. The effective date for initial accreditation is March 3, 2020.
“This accreditation is a mark of quality, assuring our students and their future employers that our program provides excellent training relevant to Alaska,” said Dr. Marianne Murray, the director of nursing at APU. “We are especially proud that our programs were recognized for the integration of cultural safety throughout the curriculum,” she said.
Like all its academic programs, the nursing degrees at APU emphasize Indigenous ways of knowing and respect for Alaska Native cultures. ACEN representatives singled out the APU program’s emphasis on community experiences and projects in relation to Indigenous knowledge as an area of strength. The university has a strategic partnership with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and works with Tribal Health Organizations and healthcare providers throughout the state to provide clinical learning opportunities for nursing students.
Both degrees fill a unique role amid Alaska’s ongoing nursing shortage. The associate degree is a three-semester foundational program preparing graduates to become registered nurses. This program prioritizes experiential, active learning strategies in the university’s nursing simulation lab and through clinical rotations. The program graduates its first cohort of 16 students on April 30, 2022. The bachelor’s degree is a bridge program designed for registered nurses to advance their education and offers accelerated courses for working healthcare professionals.
“This ACEN accreditation ensures that our programs are meeting the highest standards while supporting our students and our communities,” said Murray. “We’re honored to train nurses with respect for Alaska Native cultures and we look forward to welcoming many more nursing students to come.”