Hollis Forster, RNC-NP
Nursing Career and Education Expert
Hollis Forster, RNC-NP received her RN in 1980 and her nurse practitioner license in 1982 from the University of California at Los Angeles. She’s worked in intensive care units and ambulatory care centers, delivering hands-on women’s health care services to countless women. During many of these years, she also worked as the risk and quality manager of ten women’s health centers, assuring compliance with local and federal law and managing the details of protocol development and implementation.
From 2003-2005, she served as the Executive Director of the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, drawing on her knowledge of cervical cancer from her twenty years as a provider of cervical cancer services. This experience enriched her knowledge of the administrative needs of health care services.
In 2006, Holly joined Affiliates Risk Management Services, a risk management organization that serves a national health care association. She is currently Director of Risk and Quality Management for over 860 health care sites. She also continues her hands-on work to stay connected with the most important part of this job- the patient.
Ms. Forster has also served on the board of medical management for the Family Planning Funding organization in California and has been a visiting faculty member for the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, delivering medical education to reproductive health care professionals across the U.S.
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When you embark on choosing a school for your nursing education, there are many things to consider. Some of these include: cost, distance from home (if a campus based program), hours you have to devote to courses, comfort with the clinical rotation placements and whether the school is “accredited.”
So, who does this “accreditation, ” and what does it mean?
There are several organizations that accredit nursing programs. The one that extends to all nursing programs is the National League of Nursing- Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). This organization reviews programs that include vocational agencies, hospitals, professional schools, seminaries, colleges, universities, or any institution that offers diplomas, certificates or academic degrees.
Other organizations that accredit programs are the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which restricts its scope to programs offering Bachelor’s degrees and Master’s degrees, the Council on Accreditation of Nurses Anesthetists Educational Programs, directed specifically to that specialty, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives- Division of Accreditation, which looks at CNM (certified nurse mid-wife) programs.
The NLNAC is the “stamp of approval” you should look for when searching for an appropriate school for your education.
Why should you look for a school that is accredited in this way?
If the school carries this accreditation, it gives you the confidence that an independent group of respected, competent peers have reviewed the programs of the school and found them to be supportive of the goal of the school, to provide students with a nursing education with which they can practice in the community.
What does the accreditation review look at in the program?
The process reviews all aspects involved in a well-run, self-sustaining school. They not only want to see the curriculum of the program, they review the budgets, the leadership and support, minutes of faculty meetings, the fiscal and physical resources available, the C.V.s of faculty and annual reports. They, of course, also look at the classes offered, the clinical schedules, course outlines, samples of exams, student handbooks, clinical agency contracts and student outcomes. This depth of review should give you confidence that the school can fulfill its goal of completing your education with the quality you expected.
How will attending an accredited school help you in your career and your future education?
There are several reasons why attending an accredited school will help you. One of these is that going through an accreditation process encourages the school or program itself to do on-going self-examination. If the organization continually looks at areas that need improvement, then you know they will be always directed to improving the quality of their program, their faculty and their facilities. The process also identifies areas that need improvement within the institution. Sometimes when an organization has done something the same way for many years, it loses sight of ways to improve the process, or even the need to improve. Having outside experts looking at processes can alert the school to positive changes it could institute that would make your educational experience even better.
Finally, attending an accredited school gives you more professional and educational mobility. When you apply for jobs, employers look for the school you attended. It is only beneficial for you if they see you have received your diploma, certificate or degree from an accredited nursing educational institution. And as you advance in your career, and you decide to return to school, other educational programs will also look more favorably on a certificate or degree from an accredited school.