By Fred H. Rodriguez, Jr., M.D.
President, NAACLS Board of Directors
“The only constant in life is change.” This is an aphorism that I coined many years ago, and its truth is verified for me almost every day.
Hopefully when change occurs, the change results in improving a situation (i.e., in some way makes things better). Very often, however, we do not (or cannot) appreciate or understand why change is necessary. Hence, it is a consistent characteristic of human nature to prefer the “status quo” rather than to actively pursue or embrace change.
Recently, NAACLS published revised Standards for the accreditation and approval of programs in laboratory science. The implementation of these revised Standards begins in the Fall 2014. The release of the new Standards has had a predictable response for NAACLS staff with the expected questions from program directors regarding clarification and, occasionally, questions with some vexation (e.g., “What were they thinking?” or “Why are they doing this to me?”). It is appropriate, however, for every organization to periodically review its Standards to assure that the benchmarks it sets continue to address and meet current practices. The constant review and revision of NAACLS laboratory science education Standards (including deleting no longer relevant Standards, revising existing Standards, and adding new Standards) is appropriate so that laboratory science graduates can be prepared to be as successful as possible when they enter the workforce. Standards development is (and always will be) a never ending iterative process.
Please accept my assurance that the revised Standards were not conceived by a demonic or revengeful NAACLS Board of Directors. The NAACLS Board accepts and embraces its responsibility to continuously review and revise Standards in an iterative process. It is the goal of the NAACLS Board that the Standards reflect appropriate requirements for the preparation of students and for the welfare of the public. The Standards are developed in an open process with input from program directors and the public.
So, use the adoption and implementation of the revised Standards in your program as an opportunity to review and reflect on the character and quality of the educational experience that you provide for your students. Does your program prepare students not only for success on certification examinations, and in the workplace, but also to be knowledgeable health care providers that promote patient safety and welfare? Embrace the Standards (e.g., outcome measures) as tools to monitor the product of your program, and use those objective measures to document that your program really is as good as you say it is and want it to be.
As always, please contact the NAACLS staff for additional information or clarification of any questions you may have regarding the Standards.