By Bonnie McCoy

Have you ever considered becoming a site visitor? I know, you’re really busy; it’s hard to take the time to leave your own program to visit someone else’s. Why on earth would you want to add to your workload? Let’s talk about it!

Personally, I became a site visitor in 1998 because I thought that I could help to make a difference in the quality of education in surgical technology programs through the accreditation process. More about that later.

Why is program accreditation important? ARC/STSA oversees the accreditation process for surgical technology and surgical assisting programs. Accreditation is a method for recognizing the level of performance, integrity, and quality in professional programs. It validates the educational process and helps to ensure that graduates entering the workforce are knowledgeable and competent. What could be more important than having qualified healthcare professionals in the field?

ARC/STSA ensures compliance of its accredited programs through annual reports and periodic on-site visits. This is where the site visitor team comes in. Depending on the type of site visit, two or more team members will perform the site visit. The site visitors will assess the program’s compliance with the Standards, whether or not the program is achieving its goals, and how the program is addressing self-identified concerns. The team is there to “verify, clarify, and amplify”. The team does not make any determination regarding the program’s on-going accreditation.

ARC/STSA provides mandatory education for its site visitor volunteers before an individual is sent on their first site visit — yes, this is a volunteer position and you must provide the time; however, ARC/STSA pays all of your travel expenses. ARC/STSA will provide you with the information and tools that you need to be successful in your role. An experienced person will be assigned with you during your initial visits.

Has your program had a site visit in the past few years? How intimidating was it for you and your faculty to go through the process? Did you feel completely prepared, utterly confused, or somewhere in between? I believe tha