And Why You Should Join the ARC/STSA Site Visitor Team

how to become a site visitor

By Logan Threet, CST, Director of Surgical Technology at Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology

I have been a practicing Certified Surgical Technologist for 17 years, and in 2013, I had the amazing opportunity to become the surgical technology program director for Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology – the very school I graduated from.

Less than a year into this role, I received the nerve-racking email from the accreditation staff. It’s the one every program director sweats: “Dear program director, it’s time for your on-site accreditation visit.” The next weeks were spent preparing, digging through old files and trying to understand how the person before me reported the data. Whether you’re the program director for 10 months or 10 years, you carry the weight of that data.

“I spent 17 years being one step ahead of my surgeons – how was I supposed to do the same for the site team?”

I still remember the morning of my visit, sitting in the lobby with my dean, waiting for the ARC/STA site visit team to arrive. They pulled in on time, and my nerves kicked into high gear. All of the “what ifs” raced through my mind. Would all my hard work and preparation be enough? I spent 17 years being one step ahead of my surgeons – how was I supposed to do the same for the site team?

We gathered in a conference room and the visit began. The team chairperson immediately broke the tension by saying, “We are here to help you. We want you to have a successful program that always meets goals and outcomes.” In those few words, a huge weight was released. Hearing that they were there to support me and not pick apart my program put me at ease.

Shortly after the site visit, I was approached by my site visiting chair to participate in the ARC/STSA’s Beginner Site-Visitor Training. I decided to take advantage of the training and see what it had to offer.

After completing the training, I was excited to hit the ground running and sign up for my first site visit. The training did a thorough job explaining the benefits of being a site visitor – among them, having a chance to see different programs across the U.S. and how concepts are implemented to deliver the best learning experience for students. These are things we strive to learn at conferences, but as a site visitor, you get an in-person look at how other programs function. You may even come across a process you have never seen or considered. new zealand online casinos

I have been a site visitor for more than two years now. Leading a site visit forces you to think about how you manage reporting, your files and everything that comes with overseeing a program. It is a great reminder for how to go through the standards and reports, so you are submitting quality data to the ARC/STSA for your own program. Every visit you take part in gives you the chance to reflect on what you are doing in your own program. It forces you to revisit the standards and guidelines – I think of it as a quick refresher with each visit I do. And with each visit, you come back with more information and maybe a different way of looking at or complying with an outcome or standard – that is a true benefit to doing site visits.

Since my time as a site visitor, I have seen a huge shift in the culture of accreditation. It’s becoming more apparent that programs understand that while the ARC/STSA must ensure that programs meet the Standards, it also provides a support system for our programs. This shift in culture has made me extremely proud to be a site visitor, and I can honestly say the role has made me a more confident program director.

I cannot stress enough the importance of becoming a site visitor, not only to help your own program, but to support our profession at large. I encourage you to attend the training that will take place during the AFE Conference in February 2019. At the very least, you will collect new information that can help you down the road. Working in this role, I have learned I can help students even more as a site visitor. When you help improve a program, you help improve student outcomes – while at the same time reinforcing your own knowledge of the Standards of accreditation.

Editor’s note: Interested in learning more about becoming a site visitor? The ARC/STSA will offer a session for beginners, as well as a review for current, active site visitors, and an advanced site visitor training on Feb.8, during the Educators Conference in Tempe, Ariz. Help advance the profession and register for this training today.