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ANCC Accreditation Criteria Review: Quality Outcomes 3a (QO3a)

Whether you are an accredited provider such as i3 Health or you are an educational partner working with an accredited provider, it's still important to understand the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) criteria that underlie nursing continuing professional development (NCPD) activities. This is part of a periodic series of posts looking at what each criterion means in general and what it might mean for you.

The fourth and final set of ANCC accreditation criteria focuses on quality outcomes (QO). While we tend to think of quality at the clinical or institutional level, in this case, the ANCC is looking at the quality of the NCPD program. There are 3 criteria within this set. QO3 follows a similar format to QO2 and is divided into an "a" and a "b". Today we will look at the first part of this criterion.

Criterion QO3a states:

Identify at least 1 quality outcome the PU has established and worked to achieve over the past 12 months to improve the professional development of nurses. Identify the metrics used to measure success in achieving that outcome.

This criterion is very similar to QO2a. It is easy to overcomplicate, but all it is asking for is 1 sentence.

What is 1 goal you have worked toward to improve the professional practice of the nurses who attend your activities?

You can list more than 1 goal. But each should be able to be summarized in a single sentence. While SMART goal style is not required, that is a fairly simple way to keep track of all of the parts to include in an outcomes goal. If you're not familiar with SMART goals, the letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

The big difference between QO2 and QO3 is who the goal impacts. QO2 focuses on the provider unit. QO3 focuses on the learners. It's a good idea to look at your responses to QO2a and QO3a side-by-side so that you can easily see if you've put everything in the right place.

Once you've written a single sentence summary of at least 1 outcomes goal your program had for its learners, you're ready to move on to QO3b. And we'll cover that in the next post in this series.

Other Posts in This Series

ANCC Accreditation Criteria Overview

Organizational Overview 1 (OO1)

Organizational Overview 2 (OO2)

Structural Capacity 1 (SC1)

Structural Capacity 2 (SC2)

Structural Capacity 3 (SC3)

Educational Design Process 1 (EDP1)

Educational Design Process 2 (EDP2)

Educational Design Process 3 (EDP3)

Educational Design Process 4 (EDP4)

Educational Design Process 5 (EDP5)

Educational Design Process 6 (EDP6)

Educational Design Process 7 (EDP7)

Quality Outcomes 1 (QO1)

Quality Outcomes 2a (QO2a) 

Quality Outcomes 2b (QO2b)


ACCME (2022). Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Education. Available at:

ANCC (2021). Writing to the ANCC NCPD Accreditation Criteria Self-Learning Guide. Available at:

ANCC (2021). ANCC NCPD Accredited Provider Applicant Journey Guide. Available at:

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ANCC Accreditation Criteria Review: Quality Outcom...
ANCC Accreditation Criteria Review: Quality Outcom...