The University of Houston-Victoria School of Nursing received national accreditation on its first attempt.

The accreditation comes less than two years after the state approved creating the school.

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 the commission in January to start the accreditation process.

Two representatives from nursing schools and a practicing nurse then visited March 2 - 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 in the summer.

While in Victoria and Sugar Land, the accreditation team interviewed community members, alumni, students, faculty members, university administrators and hospital representatives about the quality of the school. They 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.

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.

Area health care 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.

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."

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