Academic accreditation offers a public seal of approval -- a guarantee of quality in higher education programs. However, traditional evaluation processes for accrediting health professions programs are out of date with changes in the global health care and higher educational environments and need to change, according to a report by a task force directed by the UC San Francisco Center for the Health Professions.
The Task Force On Accreditation of Health Professions Education report recommends that accrediting agencies be more responsive to the needs of students and the public, adopt a uniform approach to accrediting all programs, and explore new technologies to streamline accreditation.
"Accreditation today is at a crossroads -- caught between the 'old way' of doing things and demands for a 'new way' of doing business," said Edward O' Neil, PhD, director of the Center for the Health Professions, executive director of the Pew Health Commission, and a member of the task force. "Students have a right to know that the programs they enter will prepare them to be good physicians, nurses, dentists, or therapists. And members of the public have a right to know that the people to whom they entrust their health have the education they need to do their jobs well."
The accreditation process has become complex and inefficient, focussing more on
rigid compliance with arcane rules than on improving the quality of educational
programs that graduate new health professionals, according to the report.
Part of the problem with accreditation lies in the number of accrediting
agencies, according to the report. More than 50 accreditation programs evaluate
higher education programs for physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists,
acupuncturists, and other health professionals. All of them use different
standards and reporting requirements, creating more work for educational
programs seeking accreditation and increasing the cost of accreditation.
"In addition, the proce
Contact: Lordelyn P. del Rosario
University of California - San Francisco