What is accreditation? This is an important question to answer for anyone who will be following this blog. Essentially, accreditation is a type of certification process. An accrediting body or “accreditor” is one which establishes written standards against which other organizations or “accreditees” are measured and eventually certified or “accredited”. The broad purpose of accreditation is to establish quality measurement criteria and to raise the level of services and professionalism within, a given profession or industry.
So, what does this mean to me?
Many people come into contact with accredited organizations on a daily basis and often are not even aware of it. The doctor you just visited takes continuing education courses annually that are approved (accredited) by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). She also would have attended an accredited university, for example, Harvard University, which is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Let’s say the doctor refers you to a local hospital for tests. The hospital and testing laboratory may each hold separate accreditation certificates by the Joint Commission. You really wouldn’t want to see a doctor who was not up on their continuing medical education (CME) or visit a hospital that wasn’t accredited, would you?
There are thousands of accrediting bodies across the US and internationally. Different categories of accreditation include those for social service agencies, educational institutions, continuing education or seminar/training companies, medical facilities, etc. Even education programs for personal trainers and organic landscapers can be accredited. Some accrediting bodies you will encounter most often in this blog are:
Social Service Organizations Accredited by:
- Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
- Council on Accreditation (COA)
- The Joint Commission
- Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL)
- Hague Intercountry Adoption Accreditation*
Continuing Education Organizations Accredited by:
- Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)
- Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)
- American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
- International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET)
- National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
- Project Management Institute (PMI)
In future posts I will discuss why accreditation is important to the organization seeking to become accredited and also the key steps in achieving accreditation. It is often not an easy process, but if managed well and if those involved understand why it is important, it can be a great way to reduce risk, improve quality and demonstrate to others that you have what it takes to pass a third-party review.
* In the case of Hague accreditation, Federal accreditation regulations 22 CFR Part 96 are the “standards” with COA acting as the accrediting body and monitoring is provided by the US Department of State. The purpose is to implement the Hague Adoption Convention, an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions.