Volume 10: Part One Conclusion

scott's thoughts Dec 26, 2023

Thank you for joining me over the past weeks as we have examined the common citations (and how to avoid them). We have looked at ARC-PA Standards 1.03 and 1.02, which comprise a large majority of program citations concerning the submission of the SSR. I hope that I have provided some valuable insight on tackling issues with these standards from a “ground up” perspective, beginning with how your program curates its data, leading to overall performance improvement across the board, rather than bandaid measures that only cover underlying issues.

Today let’s do a quick review of what we have discussed as well as the main goals of this blog series.

Summary of Standard C1.03 and C1.02 common mistakes

Avoid committing these errors!

  • Presenting benchmarks that include one data source.
  • Presenting benchmarks that only require one year of data.
  • Defining areas in need of improvement and strength without explicit language or definition is what drives this conclusion.
  • Not...
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Volume 9: Faculty Involvement The importance of faculty knowledge

scott's thoughts Dec 19, 2023

I’ve seen situations where the SSRs were almost flawlessly written, but unfortunately, the faculty was unable to articulate the same ideas well during site visit Q&A sessions, and there were no records in the minutes that supported the reports, either. Obviously, a well-written report is desirable. You must, however, ensure that your faculty is on board, with the language, the action plans, the benchmarks, and so on. If your faculty doesn’t know what’s in the SSR or understand what any of it means, a site visit will not go well. 

Ensure that your benchmarks are precise and allow your faculty to analyze the data more precisely. They must guide you, and define strengths and areas needing improvement. Data that falls below the benchmark will result in action plans if it meets the criteria.

Keep the following goals in mind:

  • Ensure that all team members can articulate the benchmarks during the site visit. If your benchmarks are kind of “all over the...
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Volume 8: Common Mistakes: Data Triangulation and Analysis

scott's thoughts Dec 12, 2023

Welcome back! As we continue our discussion of the common mistakes that can lead to observations and citations in your program’s SSR, let’s have a look at some observation language. This is what we receive from the ARC-PA committee when a program’s conclusions, action plans, strengths, and areas needing improvement are not considered to be adequately data-driven:

“The program identified six modifications, three of which were not the result of documented data analysis (the pre-matriculation program, diverse student background assessment, and student success workshops). The program did not document consistent data for the cohorts, providing one set of data for one cohort but a different set of data for another, making it impossible to document critical analysis of the data.”

“The program did not consistently incorporate or reference relevant data from other areas of the SSR to support relationships or correlational analysis.”

“Areas in...

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Volume 7: Common Mistakes: Benchmarks

scott's thoughts Dec 05, 2023

I am pleased you are joining me as we continue looking at the common sources of observations and citations on the ARC-PA SSR. As we have seen, refiguring the way your program records and structures its data is a great way to begin. Last week, we looked into generally improving a program’s meeting minutes to make sure that they are worded and organized according to SSR language and expectations. Another key to ensuring ARC-PA compliance is the understanding and correct use of benchmarks in your program.

Focusing extensively on program benchmarks may seem random – isn’t a benchmark simply a measuring stick by which the program can see if it is meeting a standard? Perhaps that is part of the problem: benchmarks seem like common sense, and so we assume they are easily grasped. The ARC-PA, however, expects unambiguous language about the reasoning behind both benchmarks and benchmark-based conclusions. I see programs cited repeatedly for poor understanding and...

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Volume 6: Common Mistakes: Meeting Minutes

scott's thoughts Nov 21, 2023

I’m pleased you’re joining me once more as we continue our discussion of common ARC-PA citations. Our focus remains on the often-cited Standards C1.02 and C1:03 and their requirements. Today, I will begin sharing recommendations that will curtail the mistakes I often see PA programs make on their Self Study Reports.

Organize and Align Committee Meeting Minutes

If I make one recommendation to PA programs, it is to get your various committee meeting minutes in order, and aligned with the SSR requirements, as soon as possible. I have seen programs with really well-done SSRs that are expertly and clearly written, and which hit all the points, yet which still get observations because their committee meeting minutes do not include action plans. To the ARC-PA, this means a lack of critical analysis.

  • Document the critical analysis in the appropriate committee minutes, mirroring the Appendix 14 A timeline.
  • Be certain that the dates in the committee minutes, regarding data...
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Volume 5: Standard C1.02 (a-c)

scott's thoughts Nov 14, 2023

Welcome back to my blog series on common citations that PA Programs receive from the ARC-PA. We’ve been focusing on Standard C1.03 - the most problematic of all standards. Before we move on to solutions and recommendations, let’s do a quick review of Standard C1.02(a-c), because problem-solving for these various standards and sub-standards follows extremely similar pathways. 

Since March 2022, 46 PA programs received at least one citation for standard C1.02 (a-c).

The components of Standard C1.02 are collection and critical analysis, which seem to be somewhat elusively defined concepts. What does it mean, when the Commission says you “didn’t conduct critical analysis?” What does the critical analysis of data actually mean? What qualifies as “collection?”

Let’s first break down the standard into its parts. The definitions are provided by the Accreditation Manual for Entry-Level Physician Assistant Programs (July 2023).

C1.02. The...

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Finding Solutions to Common ARC-PA Citations – Volume 4: What does the Commission want?

scott's thoughts Nov 07, 2023

Today’s blog continues our dive into Standard C1.03 and the reasons why it is the most-cited of all ARC-PA Standards. Thus far in our blog series, we’ve just managed to unpack the voluminous information that the completion of an SSR demands.

However, if the regurgitation of information was all that an SSR required of a PA program, we’d find ourselves under far less scrutiny and subject to far fewer citations. Rather, the Commission wants PA programs to provide thorough data, decipher it, and turn it into viable (and triangulated) reasoning and action plans. Don’t worry! These are all subjects that this blog series will cover. So, let’s forge ahead to look at the ARC-PA’s directions and how we can best comply with them in creating our Self Study Reports.

Use ARC-PA language

The first thing I’ll recommend is that you, and your staff, adopt the language of the Commission. Use their words, and fewer misunderstandings will result. Employ...

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Finding Solutions to Common ARC-PA Citations – Volume 3: Standard C1.03 Appendices Review

scott's thoughts Oct 31, 2023

I’m glad you are joining me again as I take us through the process of creating a Self-Study Report that will pass muster with the Commission. In the last blog, I began our examination of Standard C1.03 – the most often cited standard. Small wonder, too, considering the vast amount of information it demands. Today let’s look in more detail at that standard’s many appendices and what they mean for your SSR report.

As we examine the appendices in depth, remember that each should be answered with a 1) tabular or graphic display and 2) a narrative, as requested by the ARC-PA’s instructions. Therefore as we move through the requirements, align your planning with these things in mind: displaying your data in an understandable way, and describing its status and implications in cohesion with your graphics.

Appendix 14B: Administrative Aspects of the Program and Institutional Resources. This appendix requires the program to submit data and analysis to assess the...

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Finding Solutions to Common ARC-PA Citations –Volume 2:

scott's thoughts Oct 24, 2023

Standard C 1.03

We begin our discussion of common ARC-PA citations with the most notorious of the bunch - Standard C1.03. This Standard and its many appendices comprise directions for a program’s completion of the Self-Study Report (SSR).

Standard C1.03 states: The program must prepare a self-study report as part of the application for accreditation that accurately and succinctly documents the process, application and results of ongoing program self-assessment. The report must follow the guidelines provided by the ARC-PA.

Since March 2022 44 out of 98 programs reviewed received a citation for standard C1.03. That’s 45%, or nearly half of the programs! This is an extremely common issue. Moreover, getting a citation in Standard C1.03 results in spillover citations into Standard C1.02.

Common language of the findings and citations

To put it briefly, the Commission wants SSRs to be exceedingly thorough, with equal attention given to each appendix. The following are examples...

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Finding Solutions to Common ARC-PA Citations – Volume 1

scott's thoughts Oct 19, 2023

Hello readers! In a previous blog, I outlined my plans for presenting a webinar series on helping PA programs cope with the ten most common ARC-PA citations. 

As you may recall, I broke down the top ten ARC-PA Standards most commonly cited and planned to discuss in detail both how to respond to such citations and to prevent them in future reviews and site visits.

Series Part 1 was first presented in August and September, dealing with citations on Standards C1.03 and C1.02ci-iii.  I’m hard at work preparing the Series Part 2. Of course, access to the webinar’s recordings will be available to those who belong to our Members Circle.  In the meantime, however, let’s spend the following blogs covering the high points of this critical topic.

Before we begin, I must include a qualifying statement. I do not speak for the ARC-PA. The data harvested regarding the number of citations is public knowledge on the ARC-PA website. I base the elements of these...

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