Skip to main content

ANCC Accreditation with Distinction Criteria Review: Structural Capacity 1a

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 first set of Accredited Provider Distinction Criteria build on the standard Structural Capacity criteria. There are three criteria within this group, and at least one must be met for a provider to achieve "Distinction."

The first criterion in this section (1a) states:

Evidence demonstrates how a process improvement implemented by the Provider Unit resulted in meeting learner(s) needs and the outcome that was achieved.

If you go back and look at criterion SC1, you'll recall that that base criterion requires an NCPD program to focus on learner needs and collect data on how the program is doing. Criterion SC1 can be met whether or not the data show improvement.

Distinction Criterion 1a requires that improvement be shown. Over the course of the accreditation period, what is one improvement plan that was put into practice and was achieved? How did your program improve how it meets learner needs?

Depending on your program, this may be easy for you to identify and track. You don't need to write about multiple process improvement plans. You simply need to show that one of your plans succeeded.

The key thing to remember is that this must be a process improvement focused on how you meet your learners' needs. Revising how you handle your internal reporting process may be an improvement your program needed and met, but that is something behind the scenes that doesn't impact your learners. Remember to focus on them. Pick one thing. Do it well. And remember to record what you did, why you did it, and how you evaluated that you achieved your desired outcome. If you do this as you work on your process improvement plan, it will be easy to describe what you did when the time comes to write your self-study. 

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)

Quality Outcomes 3a (QO3a)

Quality Outcomes 3b (QO3b)


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:

Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

ANCC Accreditation with Distinction Criteria Revie...
Learning to Thrive at the 2023 ACCME Annual Meetin...