NLNAC is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and CHEA, among other national and international organizations, as an accrediting body for a range of nursing education programs. NLNAC assesses academic quality relative to seven standards (i.e., rules established for the measurement of quantity, quality, extent, and value of educational programs), which determine:
Institutional Mission/Governance—whether the program has a clear and publicly stated mission and/or philosophy and purposes appropriate to postsecondary or higher education in nursing;
Faculty—whether the program has quality and credentialed faculty appropriate to accomplish its purposes and strengthen its educational effectiveness;
Students—whether the program has ensured teaching and learning environments conducive to student academic achievement and life-long learning;
Curriculum and Instruction—whether the program accomplishes its educational and related purposes;
Resources—whether the program has effectively organized processes and human, fiscal, and physical resources;
Educational Effectiveness—whether the program has an identified plan for systematic evaluation and assessment of educational outcomes; and
Integrity—whether the program demonstrates integrity in its practices and relationships.
Of these, only the first standard (“mission and governance”) specifically addresses diversity, in stating that nursing education programs must “demonstrate commitment to the cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity of the community in which the institution and the nursing education unit exist” (Grumet, 2003). Other standards that are related to diversity include criteria regarding student policies (“student policies [must be] … non-discriminatory”).
As a broad set of objectives, NLNAC endorses the PEW Health Commission’s Competencies for 2005 and the 21 Competencies for the Twenty-First Century. Among these competencies is the objective that practitioners must “participate in a racially and culturally diverse society, appreciate the growing diversity of the population and the need to understand health status and health care through differing cultural values, [and] provide culturally sensitive care to a diverse society” (NLNAC, 2002, p. 107).
NLNAC is purposefully nonprescriptive with regard to student and nursing faculty diversity, according to Barbara Grumet, NLNAC’s Executive Director. NLNAC “does not require schools to practice affirmative