standard-setting bodies and their member institutions are unlikely to retreat from this goal.
Most health professions education accreditation bodies must also comply with broad regulations established by the U.S. Department of Education, which is required by law to recognize accrediting agencies that the Secretary approves as “reliable authorities as to the quality of education provided by higher education institutions” (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). Accrediting bodies seeking national recognition must meet the Secretary’s procedures and criteria, as published in the Federal Register. In addition to recognition by the Department of Education, most higher education accrediting bodies seek recognition from CHEA, a nongovernmental coordinating agency for accreditation. CHEA serves to facilitate the role of accrediting agencies in promoting and ensuring the quality and diversity of postsecondary education. Accrediting organizations must therefore meet procedures and criteria established by these groups as they establish standards for diversity.
The following chapter reviews the accreditation standards adopted by the major accrediting bodies that oversee nursing, dental, professional psychology, and medical education and assesses the potential for these standards to stimulate more intensive diversity efforts on the part of health professions training programs.
The National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC), established in 1997, accredits 1,500 of the nation’s nursing education programs granting degrees at the master’s, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical nursing levels. Its goals are to:
Promulgate a common core of standards and criteria for the accreditation of nursing programs found to meet those standards and criteria;
Strengthen educational quality through assistance to associated programs and schools, and evaluation processes, functions, publications, and research;
Advocate self-regulation in nursing education;
Promote peer review;
Foster educational equity, access, opportunity, and mobility, and preparation for employment based upon type of nursing education; and
Serve as gatekeeper to Higher Education Act Title IV programs for which NLNAC is the accrediting agency (NLNAC, 2002).