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?
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
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
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
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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