The American Association of Colleges of Nursing, or the AACN as it is often referred to, is an association aimed at ensuring that the specific needs of schools offering higher education programs in the nursing industry are sufficiently met. The association offers a number of invaluable resources to the deans of its member schools to ensure that standards in baccalaureate and higher degree programs are kept up to scratch. In addition, individual students can benefit from the association through financial aid program and scholarships. Students that attend member schools are also guaranteed of the best possible education.
About The American Association Of Colleges Of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for America’s baccalaureate-and higher-degree nursing education.
- The American Association of Colleges of Nursing Website
The following are the basic aims of the association:
- Establish quality standards for nursing education
- Assist deans and directors to implement those standards
- Influence the nursing profession to improve health care
- Promote public support for professional nursing education, research, and practice
The mission statement of the school is as follows:
“The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), a unique asset for the nation, serves the public interest by setting standards, providing resources, and developing the leadership capacity of member schools to advance nursing education, research, and practice”.
In addition to this general mission the association also has a number of values. These values include respecting and including diversity in all of its forms. In addition, the association believes in open and responsive communication as well as in the quality, efficiency and accountability in the implementation and evaluation of its activities. Last but not least the association believes in positioning through integrity.
The AACN exists to serve the needs of nurses at higher levels of education (consequently LPNs and ADNs cannot join this organization until they have completed the necessary training). The association describes itself as being “the only national organization whose sole focus is to meet the needs of universities and senior colleges in preparing the nation’s nursing professionals”. This is an association of schools or colleges, so institutional membership is the only form of membership available. Higher order educational facilities offering baccalaureate or higher degree programs in nursing may join if they meet these requirements:
- Firstly, the school in question must have the legal right to grant the qualification that it claims to offer to students
- The school also needs to be fully accredited by an accrediting agent that is recognized by the US Secretary of Education
- And, finally, the school or program must have approval from the relevant state agency in each state that is in charge of authorizing such programs
It is also possible for an educational institution that is still in the process of developing a higher level degree programs for its students to receive provisional membership for as long as three years, after which time they must meet the eligibility requirements for becoming full members. In order to qualify as a provisional member these schools must meet the first two of the requirements listed above (the third requirement only become relevant once the school has successfully finished developing the program and can offer it to nursing students).
Dues for Fiscal Year 2013 (July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013) are $4,273.00 per school, but schools that have never before been members of the association can join for the discounted value of $2,136.00.
Nursing faculties that belong to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing have the opportunity to develop themselves further through the many conferences and other educational opportunities that are open to them. The deans of each of the schools which have membership with the association will be able to, therefore, expand their careers quickly and significantly through a variety of different networking events. The main developmental opportunities include:
- Opportunities for deans and prospective future deans to develop the skills necessary for heading a nursing school in a time when health care is changing rapidly.
- The “AACN’s annual Master’s Education Conference explores academia’s role in preparing advanced nurse clinicians, while the Association’s annual Doctoral Education Conference provides deans, graduate program directors, faculty, and students with strategies for moving into leadership positions as well as advice on planning and implementing research designs”.
Essentially the deans of nursing schools are the ones who benefit from membership with this organization. There is a mentorship program through which experienced deans are matched with new deans in order to help them through the first stages of their career in that position.
The AACN offers resources to its member deans that would otherwise not be available through any other source. Early each year the findings of the Association’s comprehensive surveys of national student enrollment, graduations, and faculty and staff salaries are published, valuable data in helping you be the best dean you can be. In addition there is a benchmarking service that only member schools have access to that allows you to develop a clear idea of where your school stands in relation to others on a number of criteria. Curriculum standards, such as the Baccalaureate and Master’s Essential Clinical Resources for Nursing’s Academic Mission, are also available to member schools. This information is invaluable in shaping new baccalaureate programs or updating existing ones. Last, but not least, you will have access to two very good publications:
- The Journal of Professional Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is dedicated to giving a voice to institutes that offer higher level programs in nursing. They fight on the frontlines for the rights of emerging schools to provide the programs that they want to provide by “successfully securing financial and regulatory support for nursing programs and students”. If your school joins the AACN you can be guaranteed that the association is working with the government to achieve the following aims:
- Implement and evaluate funding programs
- Guarantee sufficient appropriations
- Develop regulatory policies to support your school’s operations
One thing that often stands in the way of a school that would like to make a difference in nursing is its lack of understanding of the related legislative issues and funding options. The American Association of Colleges of Nurses makes all of this clear to its members, allowing you to make the most of any opportunities that are available.
Stay Up to Date
By joining the AACN you are ensuring that your school is aware of changing policies and norms within the field of education in general and nursing practice and education in particular. This will allow you to ensure that your standards remain up to scratch at all times. This information is gained through attending conferences as well as through making use of the many resources supplied by the AACN to its members.
There are a number of resources available to all nursing schools through the AACN, but members receive significant discounts on these services in comparison to other institutions. The amount of money that you can save in just one year is significant and is a serious motivator for joining the association. In addition you get good value for your money every time guaranteed as the services and resources offered by the association are unparalleled.
The association offers a number of scholarships to specific nursing students that allow them to achieve their dreams and become nurses. These scholarships include the following:
- CertifiedBackground.Com Scholarship
- Minority Nurse Faculty Scholarship
- Hurst Reviews/AACN Nursing Scholarship
- AfterCollege/AACN Nursing Scholarship Program
- RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program
These are not the only financial aid options open to nurses. The AACN website provides a comprehensive account of the various programs available out there. If you would like to find out more about the financial aid options that American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends, please visit http://www.aacn.nche.edu/students/financial-aid.
There are a number of excellent reasons for a school to belong to the American Association of Colleges of Nurses. In addition, it is obvious that it is better for you to select a school that has membership with this organization when you are in that stage of your career. Nurses and prospective nurses who are interested in entering the educational side of things can benefit a great deal from knowing about the benefits and services that are on offer from the AACN. Once you have passed your undergraduate qualification and you are planning to enroll in a higher education program, focus your attention on those schools that will be able to provide you with the most resources and tools for success, i.e. the schools that are members of the AACN.
If you would like to find out more about this association by contacting them, here are the details required:
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
One Dupont Circle, NW Suite 530
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 463-6930
Fax: (202) 785-8320