By Chris Keegan

There are many acronyms used in our profession, and I am going to add one more set for you: SASA is the Subcommittee on Accreditation for Surgical Assisting. It is a permanent subcommittee of the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA). SASA was formed to make recommendations to the ARC/STSA on all matters concerning higher education accreditation for the profession of surgical first assisting.

SASA’s beginnings can be traced back, in part, to April 2002, when the first surgical assisting accreditation Standards and Guidelines for the Accreditation of Educational Programs in Surgical Assisting were adopted by the ARC/STSA, the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), the National Surgical Assistant Association (NSAA) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

The first surgical assisting programs began CAAHEP accreditation in 2003. The ARC/STSA realized the need for a subcommittee to review and evaluate emerging educational programs in surgical assisting that apply for accreditation. SASA carries out these duties by performing an in-depth assessment of applicant programs, and then makes recommendations to the ARC/STSA Board of Directors for consideration. This board sends its recommendations forward to CAAHEP’s Board of Directors, which makes all final decisions regarding accreditation.

Other SASA duties include review and revision of national educational standards used to evaluate surgical assisting programs and development of the Standards Interpretive Guide used by the program directors and school administration. These are also submitted as recommendations to the ARC/STSA Board of Directors for consideration. The review process was conducted this year by SASA after a national survey of surgical assisting educators’ preferences was completed exceeding CAAHEP requirements.

Originally, SASA consisted of five members, but was streamlined three in 2014. These members are appointed by the ARC/STSA Board of Directors and consist of a member nominated by NSAA, another nominated by AST and one academic administrator for Allied Health who also serves as a director on the board. SASA meets in-person once per year and holds at least one conference call annually to review applications, conduct subcommittee business, and fulfill its assignments.

It is my privilege to serve as the current chair of SASA as AST’s representative. My fellow members are Helga Olsen MS., CSA, CSFA (NSAA representative), and Cynthia Casparis, EdD (vice president of academic affairs). We look forward to serving the surgical assisting community and hope to see more surgical first assisting programs emerge in the near future.

Cchris-keeganhris Keegan, CST, MS, FAST has been a certified surgical technologist since 1974. She began her career at St. Mary’s Medical Center for three years, then became an “assistant to physicians” in her role as a private scrub tech for a group of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck, Facial Plastics surgeons for 14 years. Chris earned her B.S. degree in health services, with surgical technology as her major, and B.A. in history from the University of Southern Indiana in 1992, then completed her MS in education in 1996. During this time, she began her teaching career at Vincennes University and serves as program director/department chair of the surgical technology program. Chris has served as the chair and board member of the Accreditation Committee on Education in Surgical Technology (ARC-ST), vice president and board member of the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), and as a board member of the Association of Surgical Technologists. She currently holds the position as chair of the Subcommittee on Accreditation for Surgical Assisting (SASA). Chris is also a site visitor for surgical technology and surgical assisting programs for the ARC/STSA.