PITTSFIELD, MA — The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program at Berkshire Community College (BCC) was recently granted full, continuing accreditation by the Board of Directors of the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The next ACEN evaluation visit is scheduled for spring 2031.
ACEN is a national organization recognized as an accrediting body by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). ACEN accreditation is a peer-review, self-regulatory process by which non-governmental associations recognize educational institutions or programs that have been found to meet or exceed standards and criteria for educational quality.
"Accreditation validates the quality of our program and the effectiveness of the education of our students," said BCC President Ellen Kennedy. "We are proud to be addressing an important workforce need in Berkshire County and the Commonwealth through both of our accredited nursing programs." The Practical Nurse program at BCC was accredited earlier this year.
In its accreditation report, ACEN identified several areas of strength in BCC's ADN program, including:
- BCC's partnerships with Berkshire Health Systems and its Pipeline program, and its participation in the Integritus Healthcare scholarship program, which they characterized as "very strong." The programs ensure that participating students "receive tuition payments, salaries that support their ability to sustain themselves and their families while in nursing school, health benefits, the ability to work a reduced work schedule for BHS during their program, and [a guaranteed] nursing position once they graduate.
- The exceptional leadership skills demonstrated by the nurse administrator, Lori Moon. Moon was recruited in 2016 to lead the BCC Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program. Her employer at the time, Berkshire Health Systems, supported this move and supplemented her salary. In 2019, she was appointed as interim Dean of Nursing, and in 2020, she was appointed to the permanent position. "With the support of college administration, an entire new nursing faculty team that would promote a positive culture was hired. Her leadership qualities and mentoring abilities led to a rebuilding of the program and curriculum, and development of a cohesive, team-oriented, student success driven faculty. As a result … program outcomes improved to reflect a strong, quality nursing education program recognized by students, leaders at the College, clinical affiliates, and community stakeholder," the report noted.
- The College's instructional designer, who has a dedicated workload of 50% to the nursing department. This role provides teaching and learning strategies and significantly contributes to the orientation process for new faculty.
- A nursing data analyst, who is responsible for the collection, analyzing and trending of data for the nursing division. The analyst also assists with ensuring compliance with regulatory and accreditation standards.
ACEN identified areas needing development as:
- Continuation of identifying and implementing strategies/actions when the expected levels of achievement and end-of-program-student learning outcomes are not met.
- Continuation of identifying and implementing strategies/actions to improve the licensure examination pass rate when the expected level of achievement is not met.
We are thrilled to receive this report from ACEN. The BCC nursing faculty has worked diligently to meet every regulatory and accreditation standard in an effort to ensure that our nursing program is of high caliber. We take the role of educating the nurses of the future very seriously and will continue to assess and improve our program to maintain the excellence that our community deserves.