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Nursing Program Receives National Accreditation

COCC's nursing degree now backed by national quality standard

Central Oregon Community College’s (COCC) nursing associate degree program recently attained national accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), a status that puts the program on a new level of recognition and quality.

The action, formally announced this week, follows a lengthy and in-depth application process, beginning with candidacy status in August 2018. The accrediting body will revisit the program in fall of 2024.

“This is a big moment for us, a new era,” said Jane Morrow, COCC’s nursing department chair. “And it comes just as we’re expanding our cohort size to 56 students. I feel that we’re well-positioned to be a top-tier program in Oregon, and beyond.”

The college took a proactive move to be on the front end of the growing shift toward national accreditation, according to Julie Downing, instructional dean at COCC. “This wasn’t stipulated by the Oregon​ ​Legislature​ ​or​ ​the​ Oregon State Board of Nursing,” she said. “It reflects our aim to be on the leading edge.”

With an ACEN-accredited degree, COCC nursing program graduates will be able to seek employment at Veterans Hospitals nationwide, a sector of health care that requires that level of accreditation.

“Nursing’s new programmatic accreditation will expand upon the reputation of the program and open more employment opportunities for our graduates,” said COCC President Dr. Laurie Chesley. “We are thrilled to be able to offer this level of recognition.”

The college announced just last month that it was expanding its annual cohort size from 48 to 56 students, a change that will be implemented with this year’s admissions process. The shift comes as a response to a widening RN shortage in the U.S.

This year’s graduating cohort is expected to finish on time despite coronavirus obstacles, made possible by health care training provisions in an Oregon executive order.

COCC’s nursing program began in 1954.

For more information, contact Julie Downing, instructional dean, at 541-383-7238 or, or Jane Morrow, nursing department chair, at 541-383-7417 or


Nursing program