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The NAACLS News

Your home base for all NAACLS announcements, news and special features

Tag Archives: Dianne Cearlock

by Dianne M. Cearlock, PhD, Chief Executive Officer

Most program officials are probably familiar with the roles and responsibilities of site visitors and many are aware of the activities of the Review Committee on Accredited Programs (RCAP) and the Program Approval Review Committee (PARC). But how many know of the work of the Quality Assurance Committee? The Quality Assurance (QA) Committee is a standing committee of the NAACLS Board of Directors and is mandated to meet prior to every Board meeting. The overarching goals of this committee are 1) to support an ongoing quality enhancement program that addresses quality in the accreditation and approval processes, and 2) to identify, prioritize, and resolve problems indentified in those processes. Membership on this committee includes representation from all facets of the NAACLS review processes such that all steps in program reviews come under scrutiny before final decisions are made. Achieving this goal takes a village of NAACLS volunteers and staff.

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by Dianne M. Cearlock, PhD, Chief Executive Officer

A great assessment plan is the program director’s best marketing tool. Assessment may seem like just another responsibility of meeting NAACLS Standards, and that is true, but the savvy program director uses the assessment plan for so much more. The intended use of assessment is continuous quality improvement of the program but a great assessment plan also feeds directly into a successful marketing strategy for the program.

The 2012 NAACLS Standards require all programs to have a systematic assessment plan that measures the effectiveness of the program and uses the findings for continuous refinement of the program’s curriculum, education delivery methods, and other processes. Several quantitative outcome measures must be included in the assessment plan including certification/licensure pass rates, attrition, graduation, and pass rates. The use of other measures such as the results of capstone projects, faculty feedback, exit or final examinations, exit interviews with graduates, student and graduate professional leadership, impact of the program on local and regional healthcare, etc., are optional (Standard 2, I, a-c). Programs should align the assessment plan and outcomes measures used with the institutional and program missions. In other words, the assessment plan should be an ongoing process to document that programs are fulfilling their missions and that of the sponsoring institution and, if not, to make changes to the program consistent with achieving program and institutional missions.

NAACLS established benchmarks for several quantitative outcome measures including certification pass rates of ≥75% on BOC examinations, and graduate and placement rates of ≥70%. All of these are reported annually using a rolling 3-year average and, when that does not occur, further analyses of the program may be required (Standards Compliance Guide). But it is vitally important not to let these quantitative measures control the “story” of a program. A program, its students, and its faculty are so much more than the sum of its numbers. And as important and compelling as certification/licensure pass rates are to those of us in the field, is recitation of those statistics, no matter how wonderful a program’s graduates and pass rates are, really “sexy” to Chairs, Deans, Presidents, and CEOs? It’s doubtful. And that is how a great assessment program, linked to the institution and program missions, and open to innovation by program officials, connects with marketing.

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by  Dianne M. Cearlock, PhD, Chief Executive Officer

At the September 20, 2013 meeting of the NAACLS Board of Directors, in addition to accreditation and approval awards recommended by the RCAP and PARC, the following items were addressed:

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At the April 11, 2013 meeting of the NAACLS Board of Directors, in addition to accreditation and approval awards recommended by the RCAP and PARC, the following items were addressed:

  • The CHEA Committee on Recognition recommended that NAACLS be granted recognition by the CHEA Board. The CHEA Board is expected to make its’ decision in late April 2013.
  • To ensure that programs outside the United States or its’ territories are sponsored by institutions that meet standards for quality, Standard I.A was amended to include I.A.4 “an Institution recognized by the national government or a regional/national accrediting agency for higher education of the country in which it is located as a post secondary academic institution with degree granting authority (for programs outside the United States)”. Most countries do not utilize a system of regional accreditation or state licensure as does the United States. The Standard change requires foreign-based programs to be recognized by the analogous system used by the country in which the program is located.

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The new Standards are now available on our website

During the summer months of 2012, the NAACLS Board of Directors released a draft version of revised Standards on the NAACLS website with the request for public comment. All comments were collected and reviewed by the Board and, subsequently, revisions were made. The final version was passed by the Board at its September 2012 meeting, and this final version is now available on the NAACLS website. The next course of action, then, is the implementation of the new Standards, which will follow a timeline that is dependent upon the work of two new task forces that have been created by the Board of Directors.

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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. 

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The Annual Survey of Programs, a collaborative effort of NAACLS, the ASCP-Board of Certification (ASCP-BOC), and the American Medical Association (AMA), was disseminated to program directors of 570 NAACLS accredited and approved programs. Submission of the completed survey is required annually by the Standards for NAACLS programs. Presented here are data indicating numbers of NAACLS accredited and approved programs and graduates, certification examination pass rates, and job and/or further education placement rates of graduates.

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