How important is it to attend an accredited nursing school? You may be going through a time where you just found out that your nursing school is not or was not accredited, or you may be reading this because you are thinking of attending a nursing school that is unaccredited. Read on to find out more about how important nursing school accreditation is.

Will My Ability to Take the NCLEX Exam Be Affected?

Some questions that students often ask are:

  • Can I take the NCLEX if I graduated from a school that was not accredited?
  • If I am able to take the NCLEX and pass, will the fact that I graduated from a school that was not accredited affect me in any way during the job-hunting process?

For starters, taking the NCLEX is solely up to your state's Board of Nursing (BON). There are very strict requirements that you have to meet to take the NCLEX exam. These requirements vary from state to state. For more detailed information on what your state requires, visit your state's BON website, give them a call, email them, or set up a time that you can go and speak with someone.

So, can you take the NCLEX if you graduated from a school that was not accredited? The answer is yes and no. Some state boards say as long as you attended a nursing school, got your hours of clinicals in, and received the minimum passing grade, then yes you can take the state board's NCLEX. For those of you who do not know what the NCLEX is, it stands for National Council Licensure Examination. The NCLEX is exactly that, a national exam that every nursing graduate must take to be able to receive their licensure if they pass.

However, you could have graduated from a school that was not accredited, but your state board may choose not to let you take the NCLEX because they feel you have not fulfilled all the necessary requirements during your schooling. Not being able to take the exam is not very likely, but it does happen.

It is always important to look into the school you are planning to attend BEFORE you fully commit yourself, so you can be ready for any issues.

For job searching, there really is no definite answer, although most jobs do prefer that you graduated from an accredited school. If the choice is between you, who did not graduate from an accredited school, and someone else who did graduate from an accredited school, most employers will choose the candidate with the accredited nursing degree.

My School Is Not Accredited…Now What?

Let's say you graduated from a school that was not accredited but your state board has granted you permission to take the NCLEX despite this. You'll then have the chance to take the exam and pass to get your license. But, on the stressful side, let's say you graduated from a school that was not accredited but your state board has chosen to deny you from taking the exam. Sadly, you cannot travel from state to state trying to find a state board that will allow you to take the NCLEX despite this setback. For more precise directions, it is best to contact your state's BON, but ultimately you will probably have to attend a school that is accredited with the degree you have chosen.

What Does It Mean for Your School to Be Accredited?

When your school is accredited, it means that they are operating at an acceptable level according to the accrediting institution, which looks at many factors to assess academic excellence. Different agencies decide on whether they would like to accredit a school or not. The U.S. Secretary of Education has a list of legitimate agencies that can accredit schools. Most nursing programs are accredited through organizations such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). If your school is not accredited, there is no option for you to transfer to a different school because no school will take a transfer from a school that is not credible. Also, if your school is not accredited, you are limited in receiving financial aid funds.

All of these things are very important to think about when choosing a nursing school to attend. Keep in mind the downfalls a non-accredited school can bring. Taking the NCLEX already has strict requirements, so you do not want to add on any stress to the process. Furthermore, it is best to try and attend a school that is credible to save you trouble in the long run. Taking a little time out to do some research will save you both time and money.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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