UHV School of Nursing receives national accreditation on first try

The University of Houston-Victoria School of Nursing’s first attempt at national accreditation has paid off in a big way less than two years after the state gave approval for the school’s creation.

Kathryn Tart, founding dean of the School of Nursing, recently learned that the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education has fully accredited the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs for the next five years.

“This is a historical moment for our school,” Tart said. “It’s quite an accomplishment for such a young school, and it lets everyone know that we provide high-quality programs.”

Tart submitted a 120-page self-study to CCNE in January to start the accreditation process. Two representatives from nursing schools and a practicing nurse then visited March 2 through 4 to conduct a comprehensive review of the School of Nursing’s programs in Victoria and Sugar Land. The school started offering programs in Katy this past summer.

While in Victoria and Sugar Land, the CCNE team interviewed community members, alumni, students, faculty members, university administrators and hospital representatives about the quality of the school. The also reviewed the school’s curriculum, governing structure, resources and all evaluations.

The team then prepared a report on its findings, and Tart had the opportunity to respond. The organization notified Tart last week that the programs had been fully accredited through 2014. The accreditation is retroactive from March when the site visit took place.

“This accreditation will allow us to continue to attract students with leadership skills in the area of nursing who want to make a difference in their communities,” Tart said.

The national accreditation is even more significant when considering that a nursing program did not exist at UHV prior to 2006, UHV President Tim Hudson said.

“UHV saw a need in the community three years ago, and look where we are now,” Hudson said. “This accreditation is proof to everyone that our nursing school has dedicated, talented faculty who are teaching a quality curriculum to the next generation of nurses.”

Area healthcare agencies and nurses expressed a need for the university to start a baccalaureate program in 2006, and UHV launched its Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at both the Victoria campus and the University of Houston System at Sugar Land in the fall of that year. The program was so successful that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a proposal in 2007 to create a UHV School of Nursing, which allowed the university to begin offering other nursing programs.

A total of 114 students now take classes in Victoria, Sugar Land and Katy through the UHV School of Nursing, Tart said.

The School of Nursing also offers a Master of Science in Nursing program and a RN to MSN Bridge program on the Victoria, Sugar Land and Katy campuses. Both programs allow students to select nurse education or nurse administration concentrations.

The school’s newest program, the Second Degree BSN, is a 12-month intensive program for those holding bachelor’s or master’s degrees in other fields who want to become RNs. The school’s second group of Second Degree BSN students will start classes in January at UHS at Sugar Land and UHS at Cinco Ranch.

A new group of RN to BSN students also will start classes in Victoria, Sugar Land and Katy in January.

Richmond resident Bonnie Riley, manager of the birthing center at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital and a MSN student at UHV, said she was pleased to hear about the accreditation and is happy that there is a high-quality nursing school so close to where she lives and works.

“When the nursing program started at UHV, I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “I found out accreditation was in the works at the time, and I didn’t worry about the school obtaining it because I knew some of the faculty involved and had confidence in their commitment. I think the news about the accreditation is just wonderful.”

Officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, CCNE is an autonomous arm of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in Washington, D.C., according to its Web site. CCNE accredits 521 baccalaureate nursing programs, 369 master’s programs and 18 Doctor of Nursing Practice programs in the U.S.    

“Without the support and vision of the UHV administration, faculty and our community leaders, this accreditation would not have been possible,” Tart said. “I am just thrilled about this recognition.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Paula Cobler