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Accreditors to Visit BCC's Nursing Program Wednesday, Public Meeting Scheduled
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:24AM / Friday, October 19, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — BCC's nursing program will be reviewed for accreditation during a site visit on Wednesday.
 
The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing's review includes a public forum on the accreditation process. ACEN has a full day scheduled and has set aside 1:45 until 2:45 p.m. to hear from the public on any questions, opinions, or concerns about the program.
 
"It is just an open conversation ... they look at stakeholders and the community is a stakeholder," said program adviser Ann Tierney. "They really want it to be a free-flowing conversation."
 
Tierney said program officials won't even be on hand during the meeting so that ACEN can hear any type of input. It is part of a full day of review of the program and it is the first time since 2015 that ACEN has performed a site visit as part of its accreditation review. 
 
ACEN's review comes at a particularly important time for the college. During its last visit in 2015, ACEN found two deficiencies and the college was given two years to make those corrections.
 
To address the accreditation faults, the college hired two new faculty members, aligned the curriculum to meet standards (which was approved), and worked with ACEN and a consultant to create a systematic evaluation plan to address concerns with outcomes. 
 
By the spring of 2018, ACEN still had concerns with program outcomes and documentation. It sent a letter to the college with more feedback and said it would like to visit in the fall.
 
"We took their feedback and we've taken steps to be more transparent about documentation," Vice President of Academic Affairs Jennifer Berne said.
 
Those concerns became a piece of what triggered the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing to hold its own site visit, which led to the downgraded approval status as well. 
 
The Board of Registration found a number of issues during its site visit in May and ultimately dropped its rating from approved to "approved with a warning."
 
ACEN accredits the program while the state board approves it. The two bodies have different items that each is particularly looking into but work "in concert with each other," Tierney said. The college has been working toward addressing the cited issues by both boards in hopes to get back into full accreditation and full approval.
 
"The program is working toward full accreditation," she said. "We've been moving into alignment."
 
In the midst of those challenges, the program's director Tochi Ubani resigned. But in short order, the college appointed Christine Martin, who has longstanding ties with the program and Berkshire Medical Center, to serve as an interim director. 
 
Wednesday's visit could help get the nursing program back in ACEN's good grace with a full day of interviews and reviewing documents planned by the body. 
 
Tierney said MABORN could also visit at the same time but she isn't sure if it will. It is likely MABORN would hold a separate visit to re-examine the program's approval status.
 
The public meeting will be held in the General Bartlett Room on campus starting at 1:45 p.m. Any written comments can also be submitted to Dr. Marshal P. Stoll, chief executive officer, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, 3343 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 850, Atlanta, GA 30326, or mstoll@acenursing.org.
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