Stakeholders' ongoing impact in evaluating nursing programs.

How do "stakeholders" influence how nursing programs are evaluated or assessed? The answer would be that they have a great influence, a great impact. as great as they can legally and ethically have. A stakeholder would be someone who has an interest or a concern with something. That essentially includes people who designed the program, people who administer the program, managers, principals, lead teachers and teachers. In other words, someone who has something at stake in how the evaluation process is done and ultimately in how it turns out. I have no personal experience with evaluating nursing programs but I'm sure your textbook or your teacher has given you some background on it. I've been involved with evaluating other educational programs and I think the principles would probably be about the same.

Just imagine that you are a teacher who is up for a tenure review. Student evaluations affect your future greatly. It is in your interest that you the teacher get good evaluations. If you don't, you might lose your job. In the university where I got my doctorate, the professors would glare at you while you filled out your evaluations. The professors had not given us our grades yet and naturally we were afraid of that power they held over us. I remember that in at least three or four situations I gave much better evaluations that I should have. The professor influenced his own evaluation.

What impact do stakeholders have on the evaluation process of nursing programs? People on a board of education, or board of trustee, let's say, would want to make sure that the process is unbiased. That is to say, that it is fair, and that teachers like the ones I mentioned above would not affect the outcome. They very much want to know that the program is effective, running smoothly and achieving whatever outcomes they set out to achieve.

These stakeholders also, most importantly, should want the evaluation process to examine their program critically enough to ascertain just what is needed in the program. Should equipment be upgraded? Should another course be added? Should a course be dropped because it is out of date? Are all the faculty qualified to do what they are doing? Are they all current in the specific course they are teaching? Are facullty and staff doing a good job? Are students getting placed into jobs upon graduation? What feedback do the employers give?

Administrators of a program would be just as nervous as the professor up for review. Probably they would be on a committee, or meet with an outside evaluation team, to know what the evaluators are looking for, and how they can meet the standards the outside evaluators bring to the assessment. These stakeholders want it clear just what they need to do to make the process just as transparent as possible, just as smooth and easy-to-use as can be for all involved. The most important thing for these stakeholders is that they know their part in it and that when they present their results, or when the evaluators are finished.

Usually these things are either ongoing or something like the "North Central Nursing College Educational Evaluation" (I made this up) will appear regularly to evaluate the program. The stakeholders, like all involved in admininstrating, managing and overall running the program, want to be sure that their program looks good and stays good.

Students and parents should be considered stakeholders too. They have a great deal to lose or to gain based on how good the program they are involved in. Nursing students want their money's worth, and they want to know that their time and their tuition dollars are being put to good use. They want to know that the program they are attending is a good one, one that teaches them well, one that has good up-to-date equipment and qualified staff, one that trains its students so that they are well-qualified.

They want to know that, at the very least, the program will train them to meet the demands they will find once they have begun working in the field. At the best they hope they will not only be well-qualified to work in the field, but that they will get a job in the field, that their program not only trains them to do well, but educates them well enough so that they could further their education in their field, and also helps to place them in their chosen field of nursing.

All good evaluation is recursive. We start out assessing at point A, continue ongoing evaluation through point B, and have summative evaluation at point C. Any data collected along the way goes back toward improving and strengthening the program we began with at point A, all it A primed. The cycle begins again.

In ongoing evaluation, the evaluation might be something like every three years or so. Something like the "North Central Accreditation Evaluation" team comes in and looks at materials prepared for them. The committee looks at the evaluation given them. And for the next three years (whatever it is) the college or school or program then goes back to updating and improving themselves for the next evaluation. The cycle does not end as long as our program is healthy. If a program does not meet the standards of the team that evaluates them, they might lose their accreditation, or be put on probation.

These principles apply just as well to a journalism, cosmetology, or graphic design program as they do to a nursing program; however, in medical and other health professions, program evaluation becomes even more critical because ultimately everyone's health is impacted by the quality of such programs.

This paper also provides links to outside resources.

Solution Summary

This paper attempts to explain very simply in about 1300 words how nursing programs specifically but actually how all educational programs are evaluated. I wrote from my experience of teaching for 29 years in the USA and elsewhere, which did not include teaching in nursing programs, but does include evaluating the programs for which I worked. Stakeholders include trustees, boards of directors, boards of education, taxpayers, taxpayer groups, legislators, superintendents, employers, parents and their representatives, principals, lead teachers, evaluation committees usually composed of people connected with the program, the outside evaluators that usually come in regularly, and most importantly the students (not to mention the people whom they will serve). Everyone wants to make sure that the tax and the tuition is well spent, that programs are up to snuff, with modern equipment and up-to-date courses, taught by faculty who are well-qualified and current in their fields, and graduating students who are not only well-qualified but employable and ultimately employed. All these people need to know that a program they are involved in is doing just what it is supposed to do, and doing it well. These principles apply just as well to a journalism, cosmetology, or graphic design program as they do to a nursing program; however, in medical and other health professions, program evaluation becomes even more critical because ultimately everyone's health is impacted by the quality of such programs. This paper also provides links to outside resources.