Allied health deans' and program directors' perspectives of specialized accreditation effectiveness and reform.J Allied Health 2004; 33(4):247-54JA
Criticisms, calls for change, and recommendations for specialized accreditation improvement have been made by individuals or groups external to the daily operations of allied health educational programs, frequently as opinion pieces or articles lacking a research foundation. While there is a great deal of concern related to specialized accreditation, little input has been provided from those within, and integral to, allied health educational programs affected by specialized accreditation standards. The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives of selected allied health deans and program directors regarding specialized accreditation effectiveness and reform. Survey research was used to study perspectives of allied health deans and program directors located in four-year colleges and universities and in academic health centers and medical schools. Surveys were mailed to program directors offering-programs in clinical laboratory sciences and medical technology, nuclear medicine technology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, radiation therapy, and radiography. Simultaneously, allied health deans located within these institutions were surveyed. A total of 773 surveys were mailed and 424 valid responses were received, yielding a response rate of 55%. The results affirmed the role of accreditation as an effective system for assuring quality in higher education. The role of specialized accreditation in improving the quality of allied health programs was clearly articulated by the respondents. Respondents voiced strong opposition to governmental or state-level requirements for accountability and emphasized the vital role of peer evaluators. Significant differences in deans' and program directors' perspectives related to specialized accreditation were evident. Whereas deans and program directors agreed with the purposes of specialized accreditation, they expressed less support for the process and effectiveness, and critique and reform, of specialized accreditation. Within those categories, deans were in greater support of critique and reform efforts related to specialized accreditation, while program directors were more supportive of the purpose, process, and effectiveness of specialized accreditation.