ARC-PA Site Visits Made Ridiculously Easy, Part 5: Final Preparation

Updated: May 19, 2020

This is part of a blog series, ARC-PA Accreditation Site Visits Made Ridiculously Easy. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.


When it comes to preparing for an ARC-PA site visit, you hold the power to make the process ridiculously easy or laboriously difficult. We at Massey & Martin, LLC understand the process can feel overwhelming, so we’re providing a thorough walkthrough of the five distinct development phases of preparing for a site visit to help you feel ready. These phases are:


  • Strategic Planning

  • Execution

  • Application and Appendices

  • Triangulation

  • Final Preparation


In Part 1, we focused on Strategic Planning. In Part 2, we looked at the Execution involved in preparing for a site visit. In Part 3, we reviewed the Preparation of the ARC-PA Application and Appendices. In Part 4, we examined the Triangulation involved in preparing for a site visit.


Here in Part 5, we’re focusing on the Final Preparation of the ARC-PA site visit.



Final Preparation

We at Massey & Martin, LLC consider the Final Preparation stage a time to add the finishing touches on all the work your PA Program has done prior to the site visit. When this stage is complete, the site visitors will come to see your final product—and we want them to be amazed, satisfied, and never needing to ask where something is. Because of the systematic work you’ve done during each phase, the site visitors will see everything laid out in an intuitive fashion, making each thing ridiculously easy to find.


Here are our top tips for the Final Preparation involved before the ARC-PA site visit:



Provide Site Visitors with an Enjoyable Visit

The goal of this final stage is to ensure site visitors instantly know they will enjoy the site visit. Remember, first impressions last; creating an enjoyable visit for your site visitors depends on creating the initial impression that your PA Program is organized. On the other hand, if the site visitors need to continually ask where certain things are located, it will lead them to believe you have not prepared properly. If you’ve followed Massey & Martin, LLC’s five stages to make the ARC-PA site visit ridiculously easy, you’ll find providing site visitors with an enjoyable visit to be stress-free.


Choose an Ideal Location

It is important to consider the location of the room in which the site visit will take place. Even the small details will matter—including whether or not bathrooms are nearby. Choose a room that is close to the bathrooms, but away from noise or commotion. While it may not completely ruin a site visit, Massey & Martin, LLC recommends avoiding a situation that leads to your site visitors wandering around the halls; it will simply result in wasting productive time.


Note, site visitors only have a short period of time to review and validate your PA Program’s documents, while also conducting individual and group meetings. We recommend choosing a room that is big enough for the site visitors to spread out and feel comfortable. This room will also be housing all the binders, crates, isles, food, and any other essential items.



Set Up the Room Appropriately

If you’ve done the research, you know who your site visitors are and know their backgrounds. It might be beneficial to consider a room theme. For example, if your site visitors are surgeons, the site room might display anatomical models as a decoration.

The site room may include an isle diagramming your curriculum sequence. Decide whether to include an architectural design of your PA Program, the PA Program missions, goals, objectives, and assessment process. We highly recommend including your curriculum sequence as a visual.


Overall, the design of the site room is completely up to you. Whether you set up a collage of your students or simply use table cloths matching your school’s colors, the focus is on creating a visually stimulating environment.


Take Inventory

Do an inventory of everything needed in the site room. For quick reference, we recommend the following essential items:

  • Extension cords

  • Snacks

  • Staplers

  • Table cloths for food table

  • Paperclips

  • Pens

  • Notepads

  • Stickies

  • Clock

  • Waster paper basket

  • Printer

The majority of these items can be placed neatly in a wicker basket for the site visitors to grab as needed.


We also recommend a telephone in case site visitors need to call preceptors during the ARC-PA site visit. And while most site visitors bring their own computer, Massey & Martin, LLC recommends keeping a spare computer on hand.


Prepare a Food and Snack Table

As mentioned earlier, we recommend setting up a food table for site visitors. Massey & Martin, LLC advises you to ask your site visitors if they have any dietary restrictions so menus can be planned around them ahead of time. Your agenda will also guide the menu planning.


Note whether or not the site visitors plan to eat prior to arrival. The food table should always be supplied with a few essential items, such as coffee (both regular and decaf), sugar, cream, water, and a few light snacks. Keep in mind, the first day often consists of a working lunch.


Visit the Hotel Prior to the Site Visit

Two weeks prior to the ARC-PA site visit, make a trip to the hotel to examine the room your site visitors will be staying in. Check for adequate lighting, a comfortable table and chair for reviewing documents, and water. Provide a map of the city to the hotel, ensuring it will be placed in the room when the site visitors arrive; also include local restaurant recommendations.


Certain site visitors may have specific preferences, such as staying in a room closer to the elevator or having a bathtub instead of a shower. To the extent that you are able, accommodate these preferences.


Remember, it is not advised to place gifts or other items in the site visitors’ rooms. (Besides the map and restaurant recommendations, of course.)


Prepare Answers to Questions Beforehand

In order to avoid going on tangents when site visitors ask questions, Massey & Martin, LLC recommends for your PA Program team to review various questions that may come up during the ARC-PA site visit. After each site visit, immediately write down questions that were raised; it will be difficult to remember these questions when preparing for the next visit.


When a site visitor asks you a question, make sure to answer the question and no more; offering more information may lead you on an unrelated tangent. Be honest but stick to answering only the question.


Prepare Everyone to Respond to Questions

It can be easy for the Program Director to answer every question asked. We highly recommend allowing your faculty to participate in answering the questions; this shows site visitors everyone is vested and involved with the PA Program’s development.


Meet with all the individuals who might have contact with the site visitors to practice answering different questions. This will better prepare everyone when the site visitor is asking the question. In the case they ask a question you don’t have an answer for, respond, “I don’t know, but I will find out for you.” Nobody is expected to know everything.

Site visitors may ask the PA Program Director to leave the room in order to speak to the faculty alone. While this may be uncomfortable for certain faculty members, it is important for everyone to participate in the discussion. Newer faculty are allowed to mention they are new, then refer to the Program Director or explain where the answer can be found.



Prepare a Debriefing Room

Designate a room away from the site room as the “Debriefing Room” to use throughout the site visit. It will require enough chairs for the entire group.

This room will be used by everyone, including students who met with the site visitors, who comes in contact with the site visitor to share the questions they were asked. A notetaker will record what was said and which questions were asked by the visitors; this record will begin to reveal a pattern of questions that the Program Director can use to preempt any issues. It is better to address small issues sooner than larger issues later. It may be as simple as providing a syllabus that was misplaced earlier. It is wise for Program Directors to ask, “Is there anything you ae missing?” or “Is there anything I can help you find?”


Create a Line of Communication

Certain PA Programs develop group texts to communicate with the all Pa Program faculty regarding the site visitors’ locations and important information. Massey & Martin, LLC recommends creating a communication system that will keep everyone up to date throughout the ARC-PA site visit.

Example: The site visitors are arriving soon. One person texts the group to let everyone know of their arrival. Now the faculty, staff, and administration know it’s time to line up at the front door of the university to greet the site visitors upon their arrival. A few even have a sign with the names of the site visitors, welcoming them to the university.


Ensure Help is Always Available

Site visitors may have a question or need something, so we recommend coordinating your team to ensure someone is always available to help. We recommend placing a chair in the hall just outside the site visitors’ room for the available person to wait until the site visitors need their assistance.


Conclusion

This Final Preparation will complete the five stages of preparing for a successful ARC-PA site visit. You’ll be creating a room that amazes the site visitors, so they enjoy being at your institution. Remember, in order to have a perfect visit, it is vital to organize everything correctly so the site visitors can easily navigate the site visit room without needing to ask where things are. The goal is to be so well-prepared that site visitors will find it ridiculously easy to verify and validate compliance to the standards!

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