The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 public health crisis has impacted every aspect of our society. The evolving nature of the crisis has challenged all of us in the education and accreditation communities to maintain a sense of normalcy and maintain Standards that have long been accepted as the minimum criteria to establish competency of program graduates. Like our programs and sponsoring institutions, the ARC/STSA continues to assess our community needs, weighing this extraordinary event as it has an evolving and ongoing impact on our programs, students, and graduates.
The ARC/STSA remains committed to being as responsive as possible to our community, while balancing what is so important to all of us, the preparation and education of competent entry-level surgical technologists and surgical assistants. In response to an increasing number of inquiries related to upcoming graduations, compliance with clinical case requirements and possible reduction of Standards criteria, the ARC/STSA has developed the following guidance for programs working to address the specific needs of their students, graduates and communities of interest.
ARC/STSA has determined to uphold the required 120 clinical case minimum as stated in the Surgical Technology Core Curriculum (6e) and 140 clinical case minimum as stated in the Surgical Assisting Core Curriculum (3e). We recognize that each accredited program may need to initiate different approaches and strategies that may be influenced by institutional policies and procedures, community needs, as well as local, state, and federal regulations. ARC/STSA provides the following guidance for CAAHEP-accredited programs.
Programs that graduate students with fewer cases than the required minimum as stated in the core curricula will be required to provide documentation to address non-compliance with Standard III.C. – Curriculum including documentation that demonstrates how the program determined the need for graduation prior to clinical completion. Items 1–4 below describe documentation and submission requirements:
1. Programs must make available to the ARC/STSA documentation regarding how the need for early graduation was determined, including the program’s assessment of community need; how the program determined graduate competency; and, how the program incorporated the administrative team, program advisory committee, employers and community partners into the decision-making process.
2. The program must also provide documentation that consideration was given to student enrollment agreements; institutional policy and procedure; institutional accreditation