The information covered in these questions and answers can be downloaded from the link below, Accreditation Handbook Section A: Introduction.
Download Section A
• Benefits of Accreditation for Midwifery Schools
1. Is an advocacy process that helps midwifery programs evaluate themselves according to their own goals.
2. Provides technical assistance to the applicant schools to achieve a high quality program that meets MEAC standards.
3. Offers a process that can be used as a guide by institutions in evaluating their present program and enhancing the quality of education and training provided.
4. Verifies that an institution or program meets established standards.
5. Determines that a midwifery education program has set objectives for students who enroll, has provided services that enable these students to meet those objectives, and can in fact show that students have benefited from the learning experiences provided.
6. Assists prospective students in identifying acceptable programs or institutions
7. Assists institutions in determining the acceptability of transfer credits.
8. Offers a unique professional development opportunity for school staff and faculty to evaluate their own institutions or programs.
9. Protects an institution or program against harmful internal and external pressure.
10. Helps to identify institutions and programs for the investment of public and private funds.
11. Provides a reliable indicator of educational quality to employers, counselors, educators, government officials, and the public.
12. Establishes one of several considerations used as a basis for determining eligibility for Federal student financial aid programs.
13. Provides communication to institutions about issues, changes, and updates within the midwifery community that affect accreditation standards and procedures.
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• History and Purpose of MEAC
The Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) was formed in 1991 by the National Coalition of Midwifery Educators as a not-for-profit organization. MEAC’s standards for accreditation were developed by expert midwifery educators from a variety of midwifery educational programs in the United States. MEAC is a membership organization comprised of institutions and programs accredited by MEAC.
The purpose of MEAC is to establish standards for the education of competent midwives and to provide a process for self-evaluation and peer evaluation for diverse educational programs. The U.S. Secretary of Education recognizes MEAC as a national accrediting agency for direct-entry midwifery education programs and institutions.
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• MEAC's Mission
MEAC’s mission is to promote excellent education in midwifery through accreditation. Its standards and criteria for the education of midwives incorporate the nationally recognized core competencies and guiding principles of the Midwives Alliance of North America and the requirements for national certification by North American Registry of Midwives.
MEAC’s accreditation criteria for midwifery education programs reflect the unique components and philosophy of the Midwives Model of Care.
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• How does a program or school become accredited by MEAC?
The process of initial accreditation includes several steps.
1. Programs or institutions (schools) may apply for accreditation once they have four graduates from their basic education track, the majority of whom are licensed or certified midwives and are working in midwifery or a related field. They begin the application process by submitting a Pre-Application. Once MEAC receives the pre-application, we send a Handbook which shows the school how to fill out a Self-Evaluation Report.
2. The school writes a self-evaluation report (SER) that addresses how it meets the required standards of MEAC. It takes about six months to prepare a SER. Once this SER has been received by MEAC, the rest of the process will take up to 18 months.
3. An Accreditation Review Committee, composed of MEAC Board Members, will review the school's SER and conduct a site visit to evaluate whether the school adheres to the standards described in their SER. The Committee then prepares a site visit report.
4. The school has two opportunities to provide more information, both prior to and after the site visit, if needed. The Review Committee then makes a recommendation to the Board, and the Board ultimately determines whether accreditation has been granted, deferred or denied.
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• What is Accreditation?
The practice of accreditation arose in the United States as a means of conducting non-governmental, peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs in order to ensure a basic level of quality. Private educational associations, such as MEAC, adopt criteria reflecting the qualities of a sound educational program and develop procedures for evaluating institutions and programs to determine whether they are operating at basic levels of quality.
Each institution or program accredited by MEAC:
1. Utilizes competent, qualified faculty.
2. Bases its course of education on nationally recognized standards.
3. Admits qualified students based on established criteria.
4. Demonstrates students’ success and satisfaction, producing graduates prepared for licensure and/or national certification by North American Registry of Midwives and employment in the field of midwifery.
5. Advertises its course of study truthfully.
6. Practices sound financial management.
To become accredited, each program or institution must:
1. Make a self-evaluation study of its program based on MEAC standards.
2. Submit this study for review by an outside committee of peers and experts in midwifery education.
3. Open its doors to a thorough inspection.
4. Repeat the process every three to five years.
The applicant program or institution voluntarily elects to apply for accreditation and it voluntarily agrees to comply with all MEAC standards. The burden of proof in demonstrating compliance with standards rests with the institution or program, not with MEAC. The institution must prove to MEAC that it meets or exceeds the standards. MEAC considers information about an applicant institution from any source in reaching its conclusions.
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• Does MEAC offer training in preparation for applying for pre-accreditation?
Effective April 2, 2011, an administrator preparing an application for pre-accreditation or accreditation of a school or program must attend a MEAC accreditation training, before MEAC accepts the application. This training is offered as a MANA pre-conference workshop; or privately when scheduled in advance. If the period between the training and the submission of the pre-accreditation or accreditation application exceeds two years, it will be required that the MEAC accreditation workshop be repeated.
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• What Types of Programs Are Eligible?
The Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) welcomes all midwifery education programs in the United States to participate in the process of accreditation.
Its scope of accrediting includes comprehensive midwifery preparation through various routes of education including:
* Free standing schools or colleges of midwifery offering certificate and degree programs
* Certificate and degree programs of midwifery within other public and private accredited institutions
* Free standing schools or institutions that offer distance courses and/or structured apprenticeships as part of the midwifery curriculum, leading to a certificate or degree in midwifery
Institutions and programs accredited by MEAC provide the student with the academic and clinical requirements to qualify for the North American Registry of Midwives national examination leading to certification as a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM).
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• Pre-accreditation vs. Accreditation
To apply for accreditation, institutions or programs must have graduated at least four students—the majority of whom is licensed or certified midwives or is working in midwifery or a related field. Institutions or programs who do not meet these criteria may apply for pre-accreditation, but must otherwise meet the same standards as those set for institutions or programs seeking accreditation.
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• What is the difference between Programmatic and Institutional Accreditation?
MEAC offers both institutional and programmatic accreditation.
a) Institutional accreditation refers to the review and approval of an entire institution, including all of its financial and management aspects. MEAC institutional accreditation is limited to independent or freestanding educational entities that primarily provide midwifery education.
If the institution also offers other educational programs beyond the scope of midwifery expertise, the institution must be accredited by another agency recognized by the USED and the midwifery educational program can then apply for MEAC programmatic accreditation.
b) Programmatic accreditation refers to the review and approval of a midwifery program that legally functions as part of an accredited institution with a scope larger than midwifery. In order to apply for program accreditation, the program must be housed within an institution already accredited by an agency recognized by the US Department of Education.