We are considering becoming accredited. What should we do to prepare?
There are many steps you can take to help you feel more prepared for the accreditation process:
-First, reach out to MEAC to make contact with the Executive Director and/or the Accreditation Coordinators. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
-Second, MEAC has a program called MAST: Midwifery Accreditation Support Track, which offers resources & support components to help midwifery institutions/programs in the accreditation process. MAST also offers an Accreditation Doula, who you can reach out to for support and encouragement at email@example.com. On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/meacmastprogram/
-Third, thoroughly review the Accreditation Handbook http://meacschools.org/handbook/ published by MEAC. This offers a significant amount of useful information on the process of accreditation.
-Fourth, research! Topics that may help you to research include: best practices in midwifery education; curriculum and instruction; evaluation and strategic planning; diversity and equity in midwifery education; higher education administration and student services; program management; non-profit management; faculty development; and financial management.
What is the added value of accreditation?
As noted by the U.S. Department of Education: “Both the federal and state governments recognize accreditation as the mechanism by which institutional and programmatic legitimacy are ensured.” (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/us/edlite-accreditation.html). Accreditation serves to protect the public. It is part of the profession’s social contract with the public that in return for its autonomy, it will be self-regulating.
-Accreditation requires evidence regarding program outcomes and student achievement of expected competencies for independent practice.
-Accreditation protects students’ rights, ensures that due process and grievance procedures are in place, and provides a mechanism for recourse if training standards are not being fulfilled.
When can we take the next step to begin the process for applying for accreditation?
Now is the best time to take the next step! Reach out to MEAC staff firstname.lastname@example.org to determine what your next step should be – taking a workshop on the accreditation process and/or beginning the documentation for your Self-Evaluation Report.
What is a Self-Evaluation Report (SER)?
The Self-Evaluation Report (SER) is a comprehensive, detailed report prepared by the institution/program addressing each of the standards and associated benchmarks. The SER follows the structure of the MEAC Standards. Each standard is measured by a series of benchmarks. You will be asked to demonstrate how your institution meets the benchmark by responding to specific instructions such as provide a description, report the results, describe the process, etc.
What is the difference between accreditation and pre-accreditation?
To apply for accreditation, institutions or programs must have graduated at least four students — the majority of whom are licensed or certified midwives or are working in midwifery or a related field. Institutions or programs that do not meet these criteria may apply for pre-accreditation, but must otherwise meet the same standards as those set for institutions or programs seeking accreditation.
What staff is required for the accreditation process?
Once you’ve made the decision to seek accreditation, identify the people in your institution/program who will contribute to the preparation of your application and self-evaluation report. The Midwifery Program Director (or equivalent in your institution/program) generally leads the process but faculty, students, staff, board members and other stakeholders will also be involved depending on the size, structure and complexity of your midwifery education program. Get your team together to review the requirements and the timeline. Figure out who needs to do what to put all the pieces in place and get started!
MEAC provides training and technical assistance to institutions/programs about the accreditation process and may recommend consulting educators, administrators, accountants and/or other professionals for further development of the institution or program.
What advice would you give to an organization becoming accredited for the first time?
It is critical to allow adequate time to prepare for the accreditation process, as well as to dedicate the necessary time to fully implement any missing infrastructure, policies, or processes discovered during the process. It is very important to involve all stakeholders.
Employees at every level, as well as board members, consumer groups, and other partners need to be an active part of the process for accreditation to be truly meaningful and correctly implemented.
Accreditation preparation is not a task for a few people within the agency to do, although there must be full support from the highest levels of the agency, and commitment by leadership throughout the process. Having a steering committee to oversee progress through the preparation period provides structure and accountability.
-While accreditation is generally a private (non-governmental), voluntary process, it is often a significant decision-making consideration by governmental funding agencies, foundations, potential clients and students, among others.