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December 19, 2011
By Claudene Wharton
The University of Nevada, Reno Orvis School of Nursing has received an early holiday gift. The school has been notified by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education that its baccalaureate and master's degree programs in nursing have been re-accredited for the next 10 years.
The programs were previously accredited, and this re-accreditation provides continual accreditation until Dec. 31, 2021. The re-accreditation follows a rigorous process that includes a lengthy self-study by the school, a site visit by an evaluation team of peers appointed by the Commission, and a response by the school to the site visit findings. The Commission is an autonomous accrediting agency, seeking to ensure the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate and residency programs in nursing in the United States.
The Board of the Commission sent notification to Patsy Ruchala, director of the school, that the school's baccalaureate and master's degree programs have met all four accreditation standards and that there were no compliance concerns identified. The four accreditation standard areas include the programs' quality with respect to mission and governance, institutional commitment and resources, and curriculum and teaching-learning practices, as well as the programs' effectiveness in terms of aggregate student and faculty outcomes.
"We are extremely pleased that the school has been re-accredited for the maximum term of 10 years," Ruchala said. "Our faculty and staff at the Orvis School work hard to continually improve the school and the experience for our students, rather than resting on their laurels. This re-accreditation is verification that their efforts are indeed providing top-notch nursing programs for our students and the state."
Ruchala said that currently more than 250 students are enrolled in the school's bachelor's and master's degree programs, with a little more than two-thirds of those being enrolled in the bachelor's degree programs. In 2011, the school awarded 91 bachelor's degrees and 27 master's degrees. In addition, 94 percent of the school's students who took the state's challenging RN licensure exam this year have passed the exam, helping to fill the nursing gap in Nevada. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects that by the year 2020, the number of registered nurses in Nevada will fall 27.5 percent below the state's actual need.
Founded in 1956, the Orvis School of Nursing is the oldest school of nursing in the state. In fall 2010, the school began offering a Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, in collaboration with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Administrators have begun the process to apply for accreditation for this new program from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, with a site visit for that program scheduled for next March.