Accreditation is the public recognition accorded a professional program that is judged to meet established qualifications and educational standards through initial and subsequent periodic evaluations. Accreditation applies to professional programs and is distinguished from certification or licensure, which applies to individuals. Professional programs in Clinical Research are those leading to the certificate in Clinical Research, baccalaureate in Clinical Research and the masters of Clinical Research degrees. Recognition of the certificate in Clinical Research, baccalaureate in Clinical Research or the masters of Clinical Research program denotes overall compliance with the standards of the respective program. It does not imply or infer that all Clinical Research programs are totally equivalent. Accreditation standards include both quantitative and qualitative parameters.
A professional program is evaluated on the extent to which it accomplishes its stated goals and is consistent with the concept that Clinical Research is a unique, personal service profession in the health science field. In the application of these standards, literal conformity in every detail is not required. Variations are to be expected, and superiority in certain qualities may compensate, at least in part, for deficiencies in others. Many programs exceed Council standards in one or more of the various elements comprising accreditation. In Clinical Research education, as in American education generally, there is diversity. In this diversity there is potential strength. The accreditation process, therefore, seeks to maximize potential strengths while assuring basic expectations for quality Clinical Research education.
Accreditation of professional education programs in Clinical Research provides an international basis for quality assurance. In so doing, the accreditation process serves multiple constituencies:
For the public, accreditation assures conformity to general expectations of the profession and identification of colleges and schools of Clinical Research which have explicitly undertaken activities directed at improving the quality of their professional programs, and are carrying them out successfully. Accreditation also assures improvement in the professional services available to the general public in that accredited programs are expected to modify their requirements to reflect advances in knowledge and practice.
For students and prospective students, accreditation provides an assurance that a program has been found to provide satisfactory educational preparation for practice in the field
For institutions of higher education, accreditation provides a framework for self-evaluation and improvement as well as opportunity for external review and counsel. Accreditation also provides a basis for the decision-making of private and public agencies in the awarding of grants, scholarships and loans.
For the profession, accreditation provides a means for practitioner participation in the setting of requirements for preparation to enter the profession.