Accreditation

New Accreditation Standards: What You Need to Know

By Sara Fletcher, PhDAugust 26, 2020

Image: Shutterstock

As programs prepare for the fall semester, it is important to keep in mind that the 5th Edition of the ARC-PA Accreditation Standards go into effect September 1st.

While the 5th Edition Accreditation Standards do bear a resemblance to the current, 4th Edition Standards, there are some important changes worth noting – especially during these challenging times.

Given the lack of available clinical rotations required to meet the Standards, programs should pay particular attention to the removal of the requirement for a Supervised Clinical Practice Experience (SCPE) in general surgery under the new Standards. While the 5th Edition Standards require a surgery rotation, they allow programs the latitude to schedule rotations in any surgery specialty or subspecialty. For programs experiencing difficulty in placing students on general surgery rotations this is a helpful option to consider. Some surgical practices are using telemedicine for pre-operative experience, and surgical centers may be a viable option for meeting operative learning experience requirements.

Other notable changes include the addition of a new Standard on diversity and inclusion. PAEA advocated for many years for a standard specific to diversity and inclusion. The intent was to hold sponsoring institutions accountable for providing programs with the support and resources they need to help increase the diversity of students, faculty, and staff. Now that the new standard is included in the 5th Edition, PAEA is committed to helping programs meet it by providing resources, like the new Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit. Programs can use the Toolkit to develop goals and metrics to track the effectiveness of their diversity and inclusion efforts. The toolkit is available for members to download in the Digital Learning Hub.

The revised curriculum Standards, or more aptly known as the “B Standards” will require programs to include instruction on more topics and in additional disciplines. For example, under the 5th edition Standards, programs will be required to provide instruction in the economics of the health care system, an addition that reflects a growing need for clinicians to demonstrate competency in the business of health care.

Programs will also have to provide instruction on gender identity to prepare students to care for an increasingly diverse population of patients. For programs in need of resources on gender identity, please visit the Digital Learning Hub to check out this resource along with numerous other similar resources.

Another noteworthy addition in the B Standards is the requirement to include instruction on substance use disorders. Thanks to the tremendous work of the Association’s Government Relations team, programs now have access to a wealth of content and curricular resources on this important topic.

As always PAEA will continue to develop tools and resources to help programs not only meet the Accreditation Standards, but to lead, innovate, and ensure excellence in PA education.  

Sara Fletcher, PhD

Sara is vice president and chief learning officer. She joined PAEA in 2014, bringing with her extensive experience in medical education and higher education leadership.