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Additional Location – An alternate site for the delivery of the nursing program other than the original/main location. 

Administrative Capacity – Administrative services available to the governing organization and nursing education unit that directly support the function of the governing organization and the nursing education unit in the achievement of the desired outcomes. 

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) – A clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or certified nurse midwife. 

Benchmark – A statement of expected achievement, frequently aspirational in nature, posed generally by a group or organization.  A means by which programs can compare themselves with a larger group. 

Chief Executive Officer – The official who has the primary responsibility of carrying out the administrative policies of the governing organization. 

Communities of Interest – Persons, groups, agencies, and organizations that influence the mission, services, and graduates of the nursing education unit.  Examples include: healthcare facilities, state boards of nursing, nursing organizations, and the public. 

Competencies – Measurable behaviors, knowledge, actions, and skills essential to the practice of nursing. 

Complaint – An expression of dissatisfaction about something or someone that is the cause or subject of protest.  A formal allegation against a party or program usually expressed in a written, signed statement. 

Consortium – A partnership of two or more nursing education units that come together to offer a nursing program.


Accreditation – A voluntary, non-governmental process that uses peer review to determine if academic programs meet public confidence.  Institutional accreditation evaluates an entire institution as a whole.  Specialized accreditation evaluates a particular unit or schools within the institution. 

Approval – The term generally referred to by most state boards of nursing to describe authorization of nursing education programs meeting minimal standards as defined in the Nurse Practice Act or State Rules and Regulations. 

Certification – The process by which an organization, association, voluntary agency, or state licensing board grants recognition that an individual possesses predetermined knowledge and/or skills specified for practice in an area of specialization. 

Licensure – The process by which a governmental agency gives affirmation to the public that the individuals engaged in an occupation or profession have minimal education, qualifications, and competence necessary to practice in a safe manner. 

Criteria – Statements that identify the variables that need to be examined in evaluation of a standard. 

Curriculum Integrity – Demonstration of the soundness of the program of study that proceeds from the mission/philosophy in an organized manner across a sequence of courses whose objectives address the concepts embedded in the philosophy directing content and learning activities and lead logically to the student learning outcomes.  

Distance Education – An educational process in which the majority of the instruction occurs when a student and instructor are not in the same place.  Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous.  Distance education may employ correspondence study, audio, video, and/or computer technologies. 

Diversity Concepts – Knowledge about persons, communities, regions, countries, cultures, and ethnicities other than one’s own. 

Documents – All forms of communication including paper and electronic sources. (see also Published Documents) 

Due Process – A decision-making procedure that is disciplined and analytical in which relevant standards are applied by a properly constituted and authorized body using a method that is based on published rules of procedure and is free of improper influence. 

Evidence-Based – Actions, processes, or methodologies that are grounded in and flow from the translation of substantive and current research. 

Expected Level of Achievement – A measurable index that reflects a desired outcome. 

Faculty - Persons who teach and evaluate students and are academically and experientially qualified. 

Full-time – Person who teaches and has full-time faculty employment status as defined by the governing organization and the nursing education unit.   

Part-time – Person who teaches and whose appointment is less than full-time as defined by the governing organization and the nursing education unit.   

Faculty Development – Activities that facilitate faculty maintenance or enhancement of expertise including certification, continuing education, formal advanced education, clinical practice, research, publications, and other scholarly activities. 

Faculty Workload – Percentages of time that reflect the manner in which the governing organization or nursing education unit characterizes, structures, and documents the nature of faculty responsibilities.  Categories frequently used are teaching, advisement, administration, committee activity, research and other scholarship activity, and service/practice. 

Gatekeeper – A person or agency that is responsible to monitor compliance with the Higher Education Reauthorization Act Title IV. 

Governing Organization – The institution with overall responsibility and authority for the nursing education unit (e.g., college, university, hospital, career center).  

Graduate Degree – An academic degree that is higher than a baccalaureate degree, either a master’s degree and/or earned doctorate.  The doctoral degree is considered to be a terminal degree. 

Information Literacy – The ability to know when and what information is needed and to access, evaluate, and use all forms of information towards a specific purpose (paper and electronic).  Thus, information literacy can be accomplished “…in part by fluency with information technology, in part by sound investigative methods, but most important, through critical discernment and reasoning.”  (Association of College and Research Libraries) 

Interdisciplinary – Sharing of information and ideas across disciplines. 

Job Placement Rate – Number of graduates, one year after graduation, employed in a position for which the program prepared them.  

Laboratory Personnel – Non-faculty persons with specified expertise who may facilitate student learning in a practice setting typically designed to simulate the clinical environment. 

Learning Resources – Materials, facilities, activities, and technologies that facilitate student knowledge and skill development. 

Methods of Delivery (Alternative) – The way in which a nursing course, track, or program is shared with students including non-traditional means of student-faculty interaction, length required for the program of study, and/or varying intervals of class and/or clinical schedules.  Examples include but are not limited to: accelerated or condensed formats, ITV, videotape/DVD learning packages, and online delivery. 

Mission/Philosophy – The governing organization and/or nursing education unit statement that designates fundamental beliefs and characteristics and provides guidance and direction for the program(s) and services offered. 

Non-Nurse Faculty – A person who is not a nurse and teaches a nursing course such as a dietician, pharmacologist, or physiologist. 

Nurse Administrator – The individual with responsibility and authority for the administrative and instructional activities of the nursing education unit within the governing organization (e.g., dean, chairperson, director). 

Nursing Education Unit – A school, division, department, or other specific unit offering a nursing program(s) within the structure of the governing organization. A nursing education unit may offer one or more programs at one or more locations.

Nursing Program – A nursing program is identified as a single entity (program) when it can be demonstrated that all of the following criteria are met:

  1. The program is within one governing organization that holds an appropriate institutional accreditation from an agency recognized by the NLNAC.

  2. The program is within the jurisdiction of one State Board of Nursing and/or other identified regulatory body exclusive of clinical learning experiences.

  3. There is one set of student learning outcomes for the program offered.

  4. There is one nurse administrator who has responsibility and authority for the program which may include: the hiring and evaluation of faculty; the development or revision of the curriculum; the assignment/approval of faculty responsibilities; the establishment of program specific admission/progression criteria; and development and administration of the program budget.

  5. The faculty can demonstrate that they function as a faculty of the whole within a set of established faculty policies through their organization and decision-making processes, and methods of input into the curriculum development, delivery, and evaluation.

  6. There is a systematic evaluation plan that addresses the student learning outcomes, program outcomes, and the NLNAC Standards.

  7. A single degree, certificate, or diploma is offered to students successfully completing the program.

  8. All students are governed by a single set of policies.

Outcome – A statement that reflects the achievement of identified goals. 

Nursing Education Unit Outcomes – Statements that reflect the achievement of identified goals including both student learning and program outcomes. 

Program Outcomes – Performance indicators that reflect the extent to which the purposes of the nursing education unit are achieved and by which program effectiveness is documented.  Program outcomes are measurable consumer-oriented indexes designed to evaluate the degree to which the program is achieving its mission and goals.  Examples include but are not limited to: program completion rates, job placement rates, licensure/certification pass rates, and program satisfaction. 

Student Learning Outcomes – Statements of expectation written in measurable terms that express what a student will know, do, or think at the end of a learning experience; characteristics of the student at the completion of the program.  Learning outcomes are measurable learner-oriented abilities that are consistent with standards of professional practice. 

Partnership – An agreement (formal relationship) between a nursing education unit/governing organization and an outside agent/agency to accomplish specific objectives and goals over a period of time.    

Pass Rates  

Certification Pass Rates – Performance on the certification examination for first-time writers. 

Licensure Pass Rates – Performance on the licensure examination for first-time writers. 

Post-Master’s Certificate (PMC) – A select series of courses that are specific to one area of practice (e.g., certificates in nursing administration, certificates in nursing education, etc.).  

Prerequisite Course – A course that is required prior to the taking of another course.  The first course provides a foundation for the following course(s).  A prerequisite course is included in the total credit count if all students take the course and there are no alternative ways to meet the requirement. 

Professional Standards/Guidelines for Nursing Practice – A set of guidelines approved by a nationally recognized nursing organization for use in the development and evaluation of a nursing curriculum, including but not limited to:
      American Nurses Association Practice Standards
      Associate Degree Competencies (NLN)
      Criteria for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs
            (National Task Force on Quality Nurse Practitioner Education)

      Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice (AACN)
      Essentials of Master’s Education for Advanced Practice Nursing (AACN)
      Institute of Medicine, Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality
      Statement on Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice and Education
            (National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialist)

      Standards of Practice and Educational Competencies of Graduates of Practical/Vocational
            Nursing Programs (National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Services)

Program Completion Rate – Number of students who graduate within a defined period of time.  Definition used by NLNAC for the Annual Report: Program Completion = the number of students who complete the program within 150% of the time of the stated program length (the length of the program adjusted to begin with the first required nursing course). 

Program Length – Time required including the total number of credits to complete the defined program of study. 

Program Satisfaction – Perceptions of the graduates and employers as to the adequacy and effectiveness of the program. 

Program Type – A nursing education program that offers a recognized degree, diploma, or certificate.  NLNAC accredits a variety of nursing program types including: clinical doctorate, post-master’s certification, master’s, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical. 

Public – Any individual or group with an interest in but not directly responsible for the development or delivery of the nursing program (e.g., clients/patients, non-nursing students, non-nursing faculty, healthcare providers, and community residents).  

Published Document(s) – All forms of communication including paper and electronic sources intended to inform the public about the program or governing organization. 

Scholarship – Activities that facilitate the enhancement of expertise and achievement of program goals.  This may include but is not limited to: application of knowledge, teaching, service, practice, and research. 

Staff – Non-faculty personnel who facilitate the attainment of the goals and outcomes of the nursing education unit including clerical and other support person(s).  

Standard – Agreed-upon rules to measure quantity, extent, value, and quality. 

Systematic Plan for Evaluation – A written document based on NLNAC Standards that reflects the process of the ongoing comprehensive assessment of all program elements.   

Welfare of Faculty and Staff – Policies affecting faculty and staff promulgated by the governing organization and nursing education unit including but not limited to: non-discrimination, appointment, rank, grievance, promotion, rights and responsibilities, salaries/benefits, and workload.

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