What You Should Know About Accreditation

January 17, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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When checking out the different health care programs that you can apply to, there are several factors that you will want to look into, from the courses that they offer and the credentials of the teaching faculty to their schedules and of course their tuition fees. In addition to all of these, there is another very important factor that very often goes overlooked and that is whether or not the school is accredited. This is in fact one of the first questions you should ask when considering any health care program. Knowing the accreditation status will help you avoid expensive mistakes in your choice of schools. So what exactly is does it mean when a school is accredited and why is it so important? This article aims to help you understand the principles behind accreditation and its importance.  

Enjoying the beautiful view of Iringa at sunset!Accreditation is essentially a tool that is used to evaluate any teaching institution. Independent bodies assess the strengths and weaknesses of various schools and degree programs to ensure that they meet the stipulated standards of quality.

These accrediting agencies are non-governmental, private, neutral, third-parties. They evaluate teaching institutions using specific criteria such as quality of instruction, number of teaching staff, and depth and breadth of courses offered.

Schools put themselves through the process of accreditation voluntarily in order to gain insight into the quality of their own programs. Besides working as a way for the world to assess their ranking among the competition, it is also a way for the schools to get valuable advice and suggestions for improvement. For the institution, accreditation serves to instill public confidence and trust in their program and assure quality curricula.

How accreditation helps med students

For the student, accreditation serves several important purposes:

Qualify for financial aid:  Earning a degree from an accredited university or program allows you access to state and federal financial aid. Only students who are enrolled in healthcare programs accredited by accrediting organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education qualify for government financial aid.

Licensing: Many health care careers including as nursing and physical therapy require licensure in order to work in a particular state. Many states will not allow you to for their licensing or certification exams unless you have graduated from an accredited program recognized by that state.

Midwifery students on their work experience placement in the neonatal unit in Thailand. Transfer of credits: Only degrees that are earned from accredited health care programs or schools are recognized by other accredited institutions. This means if you wish to transfer to another school or earn a higher-level degree, your credits will only be recognized if they are earned from an accredited school. 

Employability: Earning your degree from an accredited institution increases your employability dramatically. However, it is not enough to just find out if the school or program you are interested in is accredited. It is equally important to find out how long they have been accredited for and how recently the last evaluation was done.

No matter how tempting the program may seem in terms of low fees or shorter duration, if it is not accredited it may be better to strike it off your list and look instead for another program that is accredited.