By Ron Kruzel, MA, CAE, CST, ARC/STSA Executive Director

As we settle into a new year, I expect you are all off to an incredibly busy 2021! I hope you have an escape mechanism in place, something you can focus on that relaxes and rejuvenates you so you can better handle your incredibly busy schedules. My mechanism is music. I have been thinking a lot lately about the following lyric…

“Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide.
No escape from reality…”
—Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

This past year has been the landslide, and the lyric seems so on point for our current zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. Yet we persist — and back to reality, the new year is off to a busy start here at the ARC/STSA! This month’s column is meant to provide you with as many timely and important updates as possible in 500 words or less. Let’s dive in.

Pandemic Response: The ARC/STSA Board of Directors has extended Early Graduation Criteria to June 30, 2021. Programs experiencing significant disruption of clinical rotations may utilize established criteria in assessing student competence for graduation. You can find the detailed criteria and documentation expectations by utilizing this link. Additionally, ARC/STSA is moving ahead with virtual site visits, not only for our initial applicant programs, but for our programs in continuing accreditation as well. With 2020 behind us, we have a backlog of continuing visits to conduct. If your program was on the schedule for review in 2020, we will be in contact later this year to set up your virtual site visit.

Associate Degree Transition: As with many planned events, the pandemic has slowed the Surgical Technology Standards review process. As you are reading this column, the proposed Surgical Technology Standards will have been through CAAHEP Standards Committee review and on their way back to the ARC/STSA Board of Directors for final review and approval. Once that review and approval occurs, the draft document moves to both of the ARC/STSA sponsoring organizations, the American College of Surgeons and the Association of Surgical Technologists, for final approval. Then we move on to the required CAAHEP public comment period, which we anticipate will occur late spring or early summer of 2021. With the conclusion of public comment, the draft document moves to the CAAHEP open hearing, an opportunity for our programs to provide comments to CAAHEP. Only then, the draft Standards, public and open hearing comments go to the CAAHEP Board of Directors for deliberation and vote. That may likely occur late summer or early fall of 2021. ARC/STSA will communicate all of these important steps to our programs, as well as any variations of the associate degree timeline that may occur.

Accreditation Management System: ARC/STSA is moving ahead with acquisition of an Accreditation Management System (AMS) for 2021. This system will significantly upgrade our connection with our accredited programs, provide a platform for programs to communicate and submit documentation to the ARC/STSA, and manage their program data in conjunction with the ARC/STSA Annual Reporting, a feature incorporated into the platform. While work will begin spring of 2021, look for implementation in late 2021 or early 2022.

Seeking Volunteers for our Board of Directors: Lastly, are you interested in serving on our volunteer Board of Directors or know someone you would like to nominate for the position? The ARC/STSA is seeking surgical technology educators from CAAHEP-accredited programs to serve on our volunteer Board of Directors. The three-year term begins July 1, 2021. You can find information on the ARC/STSA website at Applications are due Friday, February 26.

Thank you all for your commitment to education! You are our rock stars! As always, please reach out to me directly at with questions, comments, concerns, or if you just need to talk.