Accreditation of an academic program is much more than a piece of paper. It demonstrates the program meets the highest standards of academic quality and professional relevance. That’s why DMU’s master of health care administration (M.H.A.) program has become a candidate for accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).
“We have worked for several years to align our program with the accreditation requirements of CAHME,” says Carla Stebbins, Ph.D., program director and chair of the M.H.A. program.
As an academic program of DMU, the M.H.A. program already is included in the university’s accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. It’s also an associate graduate candidate program member of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA). Earning the additional CAHME credential entails a rigorous examination of the program’s purpose, curriculum, students’ experiences and the success of its graduates in a competitive job market.
That process began in 2012 when the M.H.A. program submitted an official request for accreditation, demonstrated it meets CAHME’s numerous eligibility requirements and then began a year-long self-study. The latest step was completed in February, when a CAHME team conducted an initial site visit to determine whether the program meets the commission’s 35 criteria.
“The program faculty and University administration were very pleased with the outcome of the site team’s review,” Stebbins says. “The site team was very impressed with the program, its students, alumni, advisory board, preceptors and the overall facilities. They commented favorably on the University/college support from administration and student services. They also found Des Moines to be very a very friendly and inviting community.”
The CAHME board is expected to issue its decision on whether to accredit the M.H.A. program in November. That’s not the end of the process, however; if approved, the program would receive initial accreditation for three years and would be required to submit annual reports citing achievements regarding the 35 accreditation criteria. Then another CAHME team would conduct a site visit and issue a second review. If that review is positive, the program would receive accreditation for seven years.
While the process represents some heavy academic lifting for DMU faculty and administrators, Stebbins is pleased their work so far has been “recognized and commended,” and she’s optimistic about its outcome.
“If approved, our program will join an elite list of approximately 80 programs out of hundreds of M.H.A. programs acknowledged for their commitment to quality,” Stebbins says.