CEO’s Corner: Let’s Communicate
NAACLS posts accreditation and approval decisions:
In much the same way that NAACLS accredits or approves programs in the clinical laboratory sciences, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes programmatic/specialized accreditors, including NAACLS. The CHEA standards, revised in 2010, require accrediting bodies to have “policies or procedures, developed in consultation with institutions or programs, to inform the public of the basis for final decisions to grant or reaffirm accreditation and, in the case of denial or withdrawal of accreditation, to provide specific reasons for the decision accompanied by a response, related to the final decision, from the institution or program.” The purpose of this requirement is to ensure accountability of Board decisions and transparency to the public.
In compliance, NAACLS posts the most recent accreditation and approval decisions made by the Board of Directors on its website. For each program that went through accreditation or approval review in a given cycle, NAACLS posts the program type, institution, Standard(s) cited when applicable, award, next review date(s), and Program Director. Programs that have been assigned probationary status have the option to submit a written response that is then also made available to the public by posting on the website. (NAACLS reserves the right not to publish responses that are inappropriate or inflammatory and to append an Editor’s Note if there are factual errors contained in responses.)
Important steps to remember when transitioning to a new Program Director:
NAACLS is currently witnessing an increasing amount of changes in program directors. Some of these changes are the result of retirements, while others occur as people move or change employment positions. This has created challenges for NAACLS staff as it pertains to communicating accreditation/approval issues. If your program is transitioning to a new program director, there are some very important steps which should be taken by both the departing and incoming program directors.
First, it is critical that the departing program director notify NAACLS. The program director is NAACLS’ key contact person at the sponsoring institution, so if the PD is leaving, s/he needs to provide NAACLS with the name, title and contact information for the person at the institution that will be responsible for the program until the new PD is identified. Several times a year, NAACLS sends notices to PDs that require responses. Two examples include the invoices for accreditation or approval annual fees and the annual survey of programs. Both of these examples require action by a specified deadline and failure to comply may result in late fees and/or administrative probation. Accredited programs placed on administrative probation forfeit the chance to receive a maximum accreditation award during the next review cycle.
Ideally, the succeeding program director is identified by the sponsoring institution and approved as a program director by NAACLS prior to the departure of the outgoing program director so that the communication flow remains seamless. When that is not the case, the outgoing program director needs to ascertain to whom at the sponsoring institution the responsibility for the program will be assigned and forward all the necessary contact information to NAACLS.
The incoming program director, if not already approved by NAACLS, needs to submit the completed Program Official Approval Form along with the documents required on the front page of the form. Due to a more in-depth review than in past years, a final decision can take upwards of four to six weeks, and sometimes longer during times of heavy workloads for the review committees. Therefore, it is imperative that the application be submitted as soon as possible. During the interim period, the administrator in charge or the pending program director needs to notify NAACLS with complete contact information.
New program directors also need to subscribe to the NAACLS blog so they will receive notices of new posts to the blog. This is the best way to stay current on news, important changes, and issues affecting NAACLS and its programs. There is no subscription fee and subscribing could not be easier.
Lastly, new and pending program directors should give careful consideration to participation in a NAACLS workshop. Typically, NAACLS offers two workshops a year on topics fundamental to NAACLS accreditation and approval. Information about the workshops may be found on the NAACLS News Blog and on the website (www.naacls.org).
Let’s keep the communication flowing!
By Dianne M. Cearlock, PhD, Chief Executive Officer