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 analysis and conclusions, match the timeline dates.
  • Remember to document which committee, what data was used, what benchmark was used, and what was discussed. Capture the discussion. Emphasize whether the data demonstrated a strength, or an area needing improvement. Include the outcome, action plan, and method for completion. This is a rather complex structure to put in chart form, but when you get used to it, especially within the assessment committee, it forces you to look at and connect the data.
  • Do not call something a strength until you’ve tracked it long enough. I have seen programs get citations multiple times for saying something is a “strength” based on only one year of data. Strengths are identified by data from three consecutive years.
  • You must have defining benchmarks correct in the data, and crystal-clear rationale behind them. In fact, in next week’s blog, we’ll discuss benchmarks in detail.

Demonstrating Critical Analysis in Minutes

Program meeting minutes need to demonstrate critical analysis. This can be displayed in a template that can better define these actions. The language of the minutes also needs to align with the SSR. Note that I recommend assessment committees meet at least monthly.

Minutes should track all of the components of the meeting. What did you discuss? Did you identify an area needing improvement or not? What was the outcome, or desired change? Did the faculty vote to do something? What was the follow-up? Will there be an action plan? Obviously, minutes this precise are difficult to write on the spot, but the idea is to rewrite and summarize the meeting outcomes later, using language compatible with the SSR. 

 Be sure to include the following information:

  •         Agenda Topic
  •         Data analyzed from Appendix 14
  •         Discussion summary
  •         Outcome/Votes – desired change (this is your rationale)
  •         Action Plan
  •         Mechanism for communication
  •         Timeframe for implementation
  •         To which committee/entity the duty is referred

I highly recommend archiving all areas needing improvement so they can be reviewed periodically at appropriate times, and you can demonstrate follow-up.

For example, here is the title row of my recommended minutes chart template:

Conclusion: Meeting Minutes Strategies

Here’s a quick review and reminder list of the purposes behind your minutes as well as the ways to ensure they perform their function.

  •    Generate meeting minutes that better facilitate the recording of action plans that align with your SSR. If you use a process that lets you record your minutes and then easily identify the specific elements, you’ll find the report much easier to generate correctly. 
  •    Rewrite old minutes that do not clearly depict what transpired. Incorporate elements that you missed the first time.
  •    Review all areas needing improvement/modifications /strengths in the assessment committee and create “verbatim” minutes that can be cross-walked with the SSR.
  •    Before a site visit, all team members should review the minutes and cross-reference them with the SSR. Team members should be able to address when something was discussed in a meeting and reference it.

Having your committee meeting minutes well-organized and aligned with the SSR’s requirements is paramount. Doing so will give your program a solid foundation on which to both create your compliant SSR and present a unified understanding of the program’s plans and goals during a site visit interview.

Good minutes are just the beginning, and I have several more recommendations for avoiding ARC-PA citations. Join me next week as we examine benchmarks, and how these should be decided and analyzed.


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