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After over two years of diligent work, the NAACLS Standards Task Force is nearing completion of its charge and will soon be submitting the new draft Standards to the Board of Directors for consideration. As previously reported, the charge to the Task Force is:

  • to review and revise the current Standards with a focus on “outcomes”;
  • to decrease emphases on inputs for self studies and foster innovation;
  • to consider multiple models of education delivery;
  • to limit affiliation agreement components to those requiring legal review;
  • to explore different site visit models and recommend a model that keeps NAACLS at the forefront of accreditation approaches; and
  • To consider current and future discussions regarding levels of practice and the career ladder in clinical laboratory sciences. 

The draft Standards call for less emphasis on program resources and education materials than do the current Standards. Coupled with that, the draft Standards place an increased focus on program assessment for the purpose of continuous quality improvement. Requirements for affiliation agreements are less restrictive and prescriptive, in response to programs having frequent problems with the current boilerplate template. (Program directors often have little control over the language in legal agreements between institutions.)

The Standards Task Force considered significant feedback on the draft from members of the Board, RCAP, PARC, and staff over a two year period. So now that the draft Standards are nearly ready for submission to the Board, what are the next steps in the process?

Soon, the Board will review the submitted draft. The Board has the option to ask the Task Force for further revisions or to approve the Standards for release to the public with a call for comments. There will be a limited period of time during which interested parties are invited to submit comments. (Interested parties should note that the comment period could occur during the summer of 2012.)  After the Board releases the Standards to the public for the comment period, the draft will be posted on NAACLS website. Notice will be sent to stakeholders including program directors, NAACLS’ sponsoring and participating organizations, the CLS LISTSERV, and others that the draft is posted and contact information provided so interested parties may submit comments.

Following the comment period, all comments will be compiled and reviewed by the Board for consideration. The Board has the option to leave the draft unchanged or to make further revisions in the Standards. Such decisions are guided by a number of factors including NAACLS’ mission, vision, policies and procedures, CHEA recognition requirements, and accreditation best practices.

After review of all comments and making any desired revisions, the draft then goes before the Board for final approval. The Board decides the implementation date for the new Standards but is usually set for one year or more beyond the date of final approval.

The process is lengthy and complex but the goals are lofty. The members of the Standards Task Force, with input over a two year period from members of the Board, RCAP, PARC and staff, are now ready to submit draft Standards to the Board for release to the public for comment. By this process, new Standards are crafted and approved.

by Dianne M. Cearlock, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer

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