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About the NLN

Nursing Education
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Nursing Education National League for Nursing - Excellence Initiatives

Frequently Asked Questions About The
Consultant and Available Supports

How are people selected to be on the COE committee or to serve as consultants?
Can we contact the consultant after the visit?
Who pays for the consultant’s visit?
Does the consultant receive an honorarium?
How is the consultant’s report used in making the final decision about a school’s application?
Is it necessary to have a consultant visit, if our school has previously undergone the process?
May we contact COE-designated schools for advice?
If we think there is a conflict of interest with the assigned consultant, can we ask for a different one?
What kind of support, other than a consultant, can we expect from NLN in preparing our application?
What can we expect from the consultant before, during, and after her/his visit to our school?
What is the role of the NLN staff in this process?
Who sees the consultant’s report?
How long should we expect the consultant to stay at our school?


How are people selected to be on the COE committee or to serve as consultants?
All consultants and committee members must be current members of the National League for Nursing. The NLN issues a call to its members to nominate themselves or their colleagues for these important roles. In addition, COE schools are asked to nominate individuals for these roles, and those who fulfilled either role in the past are asked about their interest in continuing. The qualifications for each role are clearly defined in the call that is issued, and all nominations are reviewed by the NLN’s director of excellence initiatives and the chair of the COE committee, which then makes all appointments. Individuals are chosen who have (a) extensive experience and current knowledge of trends and issues in nursing education, (b) a commitment to excellence and innovation, (c) an openness to new ideas; and (d) an ability to review material objectively. An attempt is made to have a balance in the consultant group and in the committee members of new and continuing individuals, and individuals from COE-designated and non-COE-designated schools.

Can we contact the consultant after the visit?
Each school and its assigned consultant should discuss this issue at the time of the visit to decide on arrangements for further contact. Consultants typically are willing to make themselves available after the visit, but the school needs to realize that consultants are not expected or required to provide extensive consultation afterwards, review materials, or engage in any other activities once their report is submitted to the school.

Who pays for the consultant’s visit?
The school assumes all costs for the on-site consultant visit, including travel, meals, and lodging expenses. These arrangements are made by the school in collaboration with the consultant. It is expected that consultants will submit an expense report to the school as soon as possible after the visit and that schools will reimburse the consultant for these expenses in a timely fashion.

Does the consultant receive an honorarium?
No, the consultant does not receive an honorarium for making the visit. All consultants volunteer their time and expertise to support the Centers of Excellence program.

How is the consultant’s report used in making the final decision about a school’s application?
The consultant’s written report is the property of the school, and is not used by the committee or the NLN Board of Governors in making recommendations or decisions regarding COE designation. The letter should not be included in the school’s final application, nor should it be submitted to the NLN.

Is it necessary to have a consultant visit, if our school has previously undergone the process?
No. The consultant visit is optional for all COE designated schools applying for continued COE designation.
Will our school be assigned a different consultant, if we are not successful the first time we apply for COE designation?
The NLN will assign a different consultant to a school that reapplies after an unsuccessful application. However, if that school wishes to have the same consultant return, the request will be considered.

May we contact COE-designated schools for advice?

Yes, the NLN highly recommends that schools applying for the COE designation contact schools that have already received this honor to solicit information that will be helpful to them. It is important to remember, however, that every school has a unique character and an individualized way of presenting its excellence. Therefore, what made sense for one school may not be appropriate for your school, and you need to remember to focus on the distinctiveness and excellence of your particular program as you prepare your initial and final applications.

If we think there is a conflict of interest with the assigned consultant, can we ask for a different one?

Yes. If either the school or the consultant believes a conflict of interest exists, the NLN will assign a new Consultant.

What kind of support, other than a consultant, can we expect from NLN in preparing our application?
It is the consultant’s responsibility to offer suggestions to the school regarding preparation of its final application. If you have questions related to the overall COE program, or any procedural matters, you are invited to contact the NLN’s Director of Excellence Initiatives for clarification and assistance. Depending on the nature of your question, you may be referred to a member of the COE committee (which oversees the COE program and appoints consultants), schools that currently hold COE designation, or a member of the NLN staff.

What can we expect from the consultant before, during, and after her/his visit to our school?
The purpose of the consultant’s visit is to help you to (a) understand the criteria in the COE category you have chosen, (b) highlight the strengths and distinctiveness of your school, and (c) identify ways in which you can “tell your story” in the final application. Prior to the visit, the consultant will talk with the dean/director/chairperson about the range of activities in which she/he may be involved during the visit, and together they will decide on a plan of action, individuals or groups with whom the consultant will meet, and dates and other details of the visit. Be sure to review the Roles and Responsibilities of the Consultant and Schools.

What is the role of the NLN staff in this process?

The NLN staff consults with the COE committee to assign the consultant for your school. Staff are also available to answer questions and give guidance, as needed, to schools and consultants. When the committee meets, NLN staff provide support to that group. Finally, all written communications, excluding the consultant report, come from the NLN.
Does the consultant confer with the committee or with anyone else involved in the process?
Although the consultant may confer with NLN staff prior to or during the visit to clarify questions, she/he does not confer with the committee, nor is her/his report shared with that recommending body.

Who sees the consultant’s report?
The consultant’s report is sent directly to the school and is not shared with the committee, NLN staff, or any other individuals. If the school wishes to share this report with anyone, that is the school’s decision.

How long should we expect the consultant to stay at our school?

Our data show that the average amount of time the consultant spends with faculty and others is eight to twelve hours, over a one or two day period. The specific amount of time the consultant would be at your school would be dependent on your needs and the availability of the consultant.

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