Associate Degree Update

Clarification on Proposed Standards and Guidelines Language
From Ronald Kruzel, CST, CAE, MA, ARC/STSA Executive Director

As presented in the April 2019 ARC/STSA eNewsletter, the Board of Directors approved the following language related to Standard I. A. – Sponsorship of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) Standards and Guidelines for the Accreditation of Educational Programs in Surgical Technology.

Standards language below appears in regular typeface; Guidelines language below appears in italic typeface.

I.  Sponsorship 
A. Sponsoring Institution 
     A sponsoring institution must be at least one of the following:

  1. A post-secondary academic institution accredited by an institutional accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and authorized under applicable law or other acceptable authority to provide a post-secondary program.
  2. A foreign post-secondary academic institution acceptable to CAAHEP, which is authorized under applicable law or other acceptable authority to provide a post-secondary program.
  3. A hospital or medical center that is institutionally accredited and authorized under applicable law or other acceptable authority to provide healthcare.
  4. A branch of the United States Armed Forces.

All graduates must complete the program with a minimum of an Associate Degree on or after August 1, 2021.

Students possessing an Associate Degree or higher who are accepted into the program meet the intent of the Standard. 

Programs in non-degree granting institutions may form articulation agreements to provide the Associate Degree to program graduates. 

Accredited surgical technology programs yet to implement the Associate Degree may request a one-time extension of up to two years from August 1, 2021, for implementation.  

The ARC/STSA has received consistent communications from our program community over the past months, primarily requesting clarification on the following proposed language.

  • All graduates must complete the program with a minimum of an Associate Degree on or after August 1, 2021. 

Clarification: The Associate Degree requirement applies to all student cohorts beginning on or after August 1, 2021. Cohorts beginning on or after August 1, 2021, must complete with a minimum Associate Degree award.

  • Accredited surgical technology programs yet to implement the Associate Degree may request a one-time extension of up to two years from August 1, 2021, for implementation. 

Clarification: Any proposed change to the CAAHEP Standards and Guidelines must be appropriately vetted to the profession’s communities of interest and follow CAAHEP procedures prior to being approved by the CAAHEP Board of Directors. Upon final approval by CAAHEP, the ARC/STSA will notify all programs; and, any programs desiring to apply for an extension of the application process may do so at that time.

In April 2019, the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) Board of Directors deliberated and approved the above language as a sponsoring organization of the ARC/STSA. The language now moves forward to ARC/STSA sponsor the American College of Surgeons (ACS) for deliberation and approval. While formal approval is pending, the ARC/STSA received correspondence in February 2019 from the ACS Committee on Interprofessional Education and Practice stating:

“The ACS Committee on Interprofessional Education and Practice discussed at length verbiage related to the Associate Degree, and strongly supports the mandate that all programs require an Associate Degree upon completion of a surgical technology program. This is based on the key tenets of patient safety and the importance of professional and interdisciplinary teams.”

Sponsor approval is one of many steps in the CAAHEP process for Standards adoption and revision. ARC/STSA encourages all ARC/STSA communities of interest to review CAAHEP Policy 400 in the most recent edition of the CAAHEP Policy and Procedures Manual, found here on the CAAHEP website. Policy 400 is on pages 27-31.

The CAAHEP process related to changes in the Standards and Guidelines provides many opportunities to the accredited-program community to provide comment. ARC/STSA, along with our sponsoring organizations, are fully committed to working with all institutions in moving forward with the transition. I encourage you to reach out to me personally by email at ron.kruzel@arcstsa.org.

With best regards,
Ron


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