The POWER of Accreditation
Self-confession...it took many years working in an accredited athletic training program to fully understand the purpose, meaning and power of accreditation. It is understandable then when very few students entering an accredited program fully understand what accreditation means. My guess is that if I asked any incoming student, possibly some inside of a program, what it means, the best possible response I would be given would be that accredited athletic training programs lead to the ability to sit for the BOC exam and ultimately clinical practice as an athletic trainer (AT). So...accreditation = gateway to practice. It is a necessity to get where you want to go. Ultimately, this isn't wrong but it is a narrow description. It is like looking in a mirror with your face only one inch away. You see items in detail but they block you from the bigger picture.
Thanks to the support of the Dean of the College of Health Sciences at EKU, Dr. Fuchs and I (Dr. Sabin) were able to go to the 2017 CAATE Accreditation Conference in Tampa last weekend. Two and a half days of presentations all about accreditation. Sounds fun, right? Even our Uber driver, after hearing Kentucky Program Directors talking about accreditation for 5 minutes, wanted to come party with us! Maybe not...however, but it is very important and, in ways most won't understand, it is exciting. Here are my POWER take-aways from the conference that lead to a greater understanding of the POWER of accreditation.
- Patients matter! - The CAATE is one of the driving forces in ensuring that upcoming ATs understand the value of patient-centered care. It isn't about returning a patient the fastest, "fixing" the impairment, or pleasing the coach. It is about the patient...who they are, what they want to accomplish and educating the upcoming AT to see a bigger picture.
- Outcomes Matter! - Whether we focus on outcomes of the patients as a result of our treatments or on the outcomes of our curriculum, program design and instruction on producing clinicians...Outcomes matter!
- Working the Framework Matters! - One big push from the weekend was to guide programs to understand our history, mission, future direction and how they are all aligned. This is the strength of a program!
- Ensuring Quality Matters! - The CAATE and accreditation in general pushes the boundaries of quality assurance. The world is changing and though constant change seems daunting, it leaves an opportunity for growth. Have you heard of the SAID principle? Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands! We don't grow without change and with the right amount of assessment mixed in we can ensure that the quality of the program and ultimately the quality of clinician care is improved.
- Relevance Matters! - Ever try to hit a moving target? Sometimes meeting the "regulations" of an accrediting body can feel like. However, when you know that accrediting body and program has an eye on the future and is working to focus on producing clinicians prepared for a wide variety of settings and needed clinical skills, you know what is relevant to your education.
OK...so you weren't there for the conference and my synopsis might not leave you on the edge of your seat biting your nails but here are a few final thoughts. Accreditation, specifically CAATE accreditation, is a process to ensure that athletic training programs meet a minimum standard. It ensures that we aren't stagnant, complacent, or irrelevant. It provides guidance to the program to make sure that we offer the best possible education to our students, in the most current and meaningful way. It means that when you come to EKU, you come to a vibrant, adapting program that prepares you for an uncertain, dynamic patient care experience. Ultimately, the POWER of accreditation expands the Power of Maroon!
Matthew Sabin, PhD, LAT, ATC
Published on October 16, 2017