What is CAAHEP?
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the largest programmatic/specialized accreditor in the health care field. CAAHEP accredits over 2000 programs in 20 health science disciplines. In addition to CAAHEP, there are at least 12 additional health-related accrediting bodies ranging from medicine and nursing to pharmacy and clinical laboratory sciences.
How is CAAHEP Structured?
CAAHEP is a broad-based membership organization. It has three “classes” of membership.
- Class I is an organizational membership- this is where collaborating Committees on Accreditation and our Sponsoring Organizations belong. Each of these organizational members is entitled to appoint one Commissioner to represent the interests and concerns of that organization.
- Class II members are the educational program sponsors- the colleges and universities that have accredited programs. They are entitled to appoint five Commissioners for each of the two categories of institutions (2 year and 4 year). These Commissioners are appointed by the two organizations representing deans at these sponsoring institutions (the National Network of Health Career Programs in 2-Year Colleges and the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions).
- Class III members are Commissioners appointed by the CAAHEP Board of Directors to represent certain other constituencies: 1) sponsors of educational programs in other settings such as the Department of Defense, Hospitals, Proprietary Institutions, etc.; 2) recent allied health graduates and 3) the general public.
Role of the Committee on Accreditation and CAAHEP in the Accreditation Process
While there are some differences among the 20 professions within CAAHEP, all accredited programs must go through a rigorous process that has certain elements in common:
- Self-Study – the program does its own analysis of how well it measures up to the established Standards.
- On-Site Evaluation – a team of “site visitors” travels to the institution to determine how accurately the self-study reflects the status of the program and to answer any additional questions that arise. This is a “peer review” process and often, after the formal part of the site visit is concluded, team members will share ideas for how a program can be strengthened or improved.
- Committee Review and Recommendation – the Committee on Accreditation for the specific discipline will review the report from the site visitors and develop a recommendation concerning accreditation. If there are areas where the program fails to meet the Standards, these “deficiencies” will be identified and progress reports will be requested to assure that each program continues its efforts to fully comply with all Standards.
- CAAHEP Board of Directors – the CAAHEP Board of Directors will then act upon the recommendations forwarded from each Committee on Accreditation. The CAAHEP Board assures that due process has been met and that Standards are being applied in a consistent and equitable manner.
CAAHEP is the final accreditor, but the Committees on Accreditation are responsible for shepherding the programs through the CAAHEP accreditation process. It is the Committee for each discipline that reviews the self-study, schedules the site visit and then meets to formulate a recommendation for the consideration of the CAAHEP Board of Directors.