The Major Strengths of Specialized Accreditation in Health Professions Education


          Provides a hallmark of program excellence and achievement beyond minimum standards,

          Formalizes the shared values of a profession and integrates them with those ' health care and higher education,

          Provides public policy makers with a strong tool to assure the public's interest and 'investment is protected, Ensures that programs are responsive to changing public needs and demands,

          Facilitates professional marketability and mobility through a broadly recognized and valued credentialing process,

          Provides a voluntary, non-regulatory (nongovernmental) process of peer review and collaboration for program improvement,

          Provides leverage for programs to preserve and strengthen institutional support and ensure equitable access to institutional resources,

          Fosters continuous improvement of educational programs, and

          Encompasses a broad range of measures of program quality, including structures, processes, and outcomes.



The Major Weaknesses of Specialized Accreditation in Health Professions Education


   Focuses more on single point inspection and compliance than on continuous program improvement

          Emphasizes policies and practices that are often more regulatory and punitive than voluntary and consultative/collaborative,

          Protects and elevates the self-interests of the individual professions above those of the public,

          Provides minimal opportunity for involvement/input by certain stakeholders, e.g., practicing health

professionals, employers, consumers, policy makers, and payers,

          Creates and/or reinforces fragmentation and segmentation within the institution as a result of the proliferation of multiple accrediting bodies,

          Creates competition with other disciplines that do not have specialized accreditation (specialized programs are often viewed within the institution as getting more than their fair share of resources because of their specialized accreditation status),

          Varies widely among the health professions 'in terms of criteria, processes and procedures,

          Prohibits cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary standard-setting and program review,

          Uses a highly prescriptive, "one size fits all" approach in some disciplines,

          Responds slowly to changes in society and in health and higher educa6on environments because of cumbersome processes for developing, approving, and implementing changes in established accred criteria and practices,

          Discourages experimentation, 'innovation, flexibility and the capacity to be responsive to local/state needs and specific institutional character and mission,

          Diverts resources from core operations (teaching, research, service) to support costly, burdensome often duplicative reporting/self-study activities,

          Offers insufficient evidence that accreditation criteria and processes are valid and reliable,

          Focuses heavily on structures and processes, with insufficient attention paid to outcomes and added values

From The Center for Health Professions, The Task Force on Accreditation of Health Professions Education, Working Papers, June, 1998