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In this Dept. 12, 2014, file photo, instructor Crystal Smith, right, watches as Illinois State University Mennonite College of Nursing student Lynnae Braker of Morton is examined by fellow nurse practitioner student Katie Merila of Bloomington at ISU's Nursing Simulation Lab in Normal.

NORMAL — Striving not to just meet but to exceed standards helped Illinois State University's Mennonite College of Nursing receive the maximum 10 years of accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, according to the head of the college.

“This is a stamp of approval on a national level,” Dean Judy Neubrander said Monday.

Generally, the commission accredits programs for five years. Although ISU will need to provide updated information in five years, it will not need to go through the full-scale process, which would include a campus visit, she said.

All of the college's programs, from its bachelor's and master's programs to its doctorate in nursing practice are included in the 10-year accreditation.

The accreditation process takes several years and includes a self-study report and onsite visit.

“Our faculty and staff's contributions and hard work, as well as the strong support from the university, our community partners, students, alumni and advisory council have made this accreditation possible,” said Neubrander.

Among elements examined by the accreditation agency when evaluating program quality and effectiveness are institutional commitment and resources, curriculum and teaching/learning practice and assessment and achievement of program outcomes.

Graduates of the program had a 94 percent passage rate on the national nursing licensure exam last year, compared to a national average of 85 percent.

Just because the college won't be up for reaccreditation for a decade doesn't mean officials will sit back and relax, Neubrander emphasized.

“We don't just do this when we're going for accreditation,” she said. “We maintain these standards all the time.”

Adapting nursing programs to meet needs is also an ongoing process.

“We are right in the middle of strategic planning, looking at where the future of health care is going and where the college should be going,” said Neubrander.

Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter @Pg_Sobota

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