Dr. Julia Watkins, executive director of CSWE, and Dr. Dean Pierce, director of Accreditation, participated in a study, “Using Accreditation Standards as a Tool for Discussing Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Health Professions.” Funded by the Kellogg Foundation, as part of the Sullivan Alliance, the study’s goal is to describe current accreditation as it relates to diversity, including processes and obstacles; and to examine, create, and implement accreditation strategies that would increase diversity in the health professions.
The study’s investigators interviewed representatives of several accreditation bodies, including the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Liaison Committee on Medical Education, American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation, American Bar Association, Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, Commission on Dental Accreditation, National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission, Council on Education in Public Health, and Council on Social Work Education.
Accreditation representatives met with the investigators on February 13, 2007, in Washington, DC to review the draft report, critique the recommendations, and offer additional insights about accreditation, its relation to diversity, and how it could be used as leverage to increase diversity in the health professions. The draft report notes that those “involved in the social work accreditation process, ranging from COA itself to the site review teams and the Commission that develops educational policy, appear to be the most racially and ethnically diverse of any discipline that is the subject of this report.”
The investigators presented a number of key observations about accreditation that emerged from their interviews with accreditors. Among these are the importance of linking diversity to quality, sharing best practices for addressing diversity-related goals, and the positive role of leadership in affecting how programs create approaches to increase racial and ethnic diversity. These observations will be used by the authors to fashion the next steps for the project.