ARC-PA Site Visits Made Ridiculously Easy, Part 1: Strategic Planning

Updated: May 19, 2020

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

Here in Part 1, we will focus on the Strategic Planning that is involved with preparing for a site visit.


For new PA Programs, it isn’t uncommon for neophyte program directors to feel overwhelmed with developing a new program and, in turn, taking it through a provisional accreditation site visit. Let’s consider how to accomplish this major undertaking using Strategic Planning.



Developing a Timeline

The first step in Strategic Planning is to develop a clear timeline soon after receiving your ARC-PA site visit date. Begin with the proposed site visit date, then work backwards to assign deadlines. This allows you to gauge exactly how much time there will be to complete each task necessary for the program’s development. Massey & Martin, LLC maintains that setting realistic and attainable deadlines will help you stay on task.


The purpose of a timeline is to keep you on track while ensuring work is being performed optimally. Timelines help guide you to delegate responsibilities and assist in evaluating your progress along the way. Although deadlines are up to you, it is vital to continually evaluate where you stand in the process. You can gain a clear picture of who is responsible for tasks, when they were assigned, and when the deadline is for completion. Both new and established programs may find a timeline beneficial as they prepare for their continuing accreditation site visit.


As mentioned, as soon as a site visit date from the ARC-PA has been established, it is important to create an overarching timeline that demonstrates a comprehensive list of elements for your program’s development. Massey & Martin, LLC has seen PA Programs benefit from working with a different timeline for each phase of development, but we do note certain programs may prefer to use one single timeline that includes every element. Deciding whether to have multiple timelines or one overarching timeline will be based on your PA Program’s needs.


Sample: Strategic Planning Timeline



Conceptualizing a Mission Statement

Writing a mission statement is essential for PA Programs. If your PA Program does not currently have one, Massey & Martin, LLC highly encourages you to write one that aligns directly with your institutional mission, vision, and goals.


Below is a graphic illustration demonstrating the importance of the relationship and alignment between the institutional mission and vision and the PA Program’s mission and vision. Elements that should be incorporated include:



Planning Ahead

It is never too early to start thinking about the ARC-PA site visit. As noted, a timeline can reveal the need to delegate certain responsibilities. This means you can begin planning ahead by considering how to delegate various duties. Here, we provide three suggestions to ease the process by planning ahead.


Use Rolling Crates

Massey & Martin, LLC’s goal is to make everything ridiculously easy for anyone to follow, so we worked hard to create a unique system of multi-tasking. We use three rolling crates, or carts, utilizing two of them for the ARC-PA Standards and one for the clinical site development. Each ARC-PA standard has its own hanging file, and each hanging file contains a cover sheet with the standard typed out. AS each ARC-PA application is completed, responses are added to each individual standard sheet. Evidence of compliance is then placed behind the cover sheet.


A manila folder containing a cover sheet with the ARC-PA standard and your PA Program’s response on the Provisional or Continuing Application should be placed in the rolling crates. Evidence of compliance for each standard needs to be placed behind the standard; when the ARC-PA application is complete, your PA Program’s response also needs to be added to each individual standard.


Putting together your crates now allows you to place all future policies, syllabi, and documents into the crates as they’re developed. There is no need to wait to start filling the crates; you can fill them along the way.


For example, if your remediation policy is already written, reviewed, and approved, place a copy of it in the C3.03 and A3.17 slot. When the policy related to infectious and environmental hazards and procedures is completed, place it in the A3.08 slot, and so on.

Using these crates has been highly beneficial for us, and we personally consider them essential for thorough organization as PA Programs prepare for the ARC-PA site visit.



Hire Administrative Assistants

Many institutions elect to hire faculty and staff as the ARC-PA site visit draws closer. With the recent implementation of the 5thEdition ARC-PA Standards, institutions will now be required to hire faculty and staff sooner than previously required. We recommend PA Programs to hire administrative assistants as soon as possible.


Working with an administrative assistant offers multiple benefits. An assistant can type out the ARC-PA applications in Word format prior to completion, send out letters for clinical rotation requests, organize clinical files, and answer phone questions about the PA Program. They can also set up the crates for ongoing program development, put together the manila folders placed in each hanging file on the crate, and type each of the standards on a single sheet of paper.


Regarding the Clinical Rotation crate, an administrative assistant can separate it into eight sections:

  • Family Medicine

  • Internal Medicine

  • Surgery

  • Emergency Medicine

  • Pediatrics

  • Women’s Health

  • Psychiatry

  • Electives

Each new clinical rotation should be placed into a separate folder containing all required documentation, as well as placed into their respective specialty folder.



Hire Accreditation Consultants

If you’re wondering whether you should hire a consultant, the answer is absolutely. There is no shame in reaching out to others with experience and, more importantly, who have successfully completed an ARC-PA accreditation site visit. Before beginning the search, make sure you have a clear understanding of your PA Program’s needs. This will allow you to select the best consultant services suited to your unique requirements.


Massey & Martin, LLC cautions you, however, to do your homework before hiring anyone. Many companies profess to be valued consultants while lacking a successful client history; beware of them and focus on companies with a good track record. Massey & Martin, LLC, for instance, has a long list of successful site visits, as well as years of industry expertise. Review websites, ask for referrals, and get recommendations from colleagues. Find out exactly what will be provided as part of acquiring an accreditation consultant’s services. Search for another PA Program that has utilized accreditation consultant services before and ask if their site visit was successful. Don’t hesitate to ask if they recommend the company.


Conclusion

The outcome of your site visit is ultimately based on how well you organize your efforts during the pre-visit period. Giving appropriate attention to detail and having just a bit of the “right” planning can help you effectively juggle curriculum development, clinical site development, application and appendices development, and site visit preparation. You have the power to create an atmosphere of simplicity by beginning early, setting goals, maintaining timelines, and staying on task. This will pave the way for a successful ARC-PA site visit.

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