New Accreditation Standards for Dental Practitioner Programs

Domain 4. Accreditation Standards

Domain 5. Processes for accreditation of programs of study and education providers

Domain 8. Stakeholder collaboration

Organisation

Australian Dental Council

Relevance

Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function: Domain 4: Accreditation Standards

Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function Domain 5: Processes for accreditation of programs of study and education providers

Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function Domain 8: Stakeholder collaboration

Issue addressed

At the time that the National Law was introduced the ADC had in place four separate sets of accreditation standards for different parts of the dental profession. The Standards were shared with the Dental Council of New Zealand [DC(NZ)]. While there was much common ground between the standards there was also difference, with programs for each part of the profession being held to between 20-22 standards that were largely focussed on program inputs, compliance with which was to be evidenced by a large list of required documents (approximately 100). This could mean that a program provider with multiple dental programs was working with several sets of ADC accreditation standards.

Feedback from program providers was that input-focussed accreditation standards had the potential to restrict program development and reduced flexibility for providers. The long list of required evidence that had to be supplied in support of an accreditation application created a significant administrative burden on program providers and resulted in accreditation submissions being made to the ADC that were extremely lengthy and difficult to navigate.

The Standards bore only a limited resemblance to those used by other Accrediting Councils, who all operated their own profession-specific standards. This could mean that a faculty with programs accredited by multiple of the Accrediting Councils could have those programs held to very different looking sets of accreditation standards and processes.

Practice introduced or changed

At the beginning of 2014 the ADC, in partnership with the DC(NZ), undertook to fundamentally review and revise its accreditation standards. A Program Accreditation Standards Steering Committee was formed to oversee the review process and as well as including representatives from the dental profession it also included representatives from the Australian and NZ Podiatry Accreditation Council, Council on Chiropractic Education Australasia and Australian Psychology Accreditation Council.

An independent Project Consultant was engaged to support the review which included multiple touchpoints with a wide range of stakeholders through a series of country-wide fora, surveys and a wide-ranging public consultation process. In addition to considering the standards themselves the review considered what evidence should be required to demonstrate that the standards are met. Following the year-long review one set of outcome-focussed accreditation standards, comprising five individual standards, was agreed for all parts of the dental profession. The review also proposed a list of 13 ‘core evidence’ requirements that should be provided in support of an accreditation application. The new standards and associated evidence requirements came into effect on 1 January 2016.

Impact

Within the dental profession initial feedback on the new standards and evidence requirements has been very positive. Program providers have reported that the standards have required them to think more constructively about how they meet the outcomes defined in the standards, rather than just working through a ‘flick and tick’ exercise when preparing an accreditation submission. The volume of each accreditation submission made to the ADC has reduced significantly and providers have reported a reduction in the administrative burden associated with preparing an accreditation submission.

More widely, several of the other Accrediting Councils have undertaken, or are in the process of undertaking, a review of their accreditation standards and are planning to adopt an almost identical set of standards to those put in place by the ADC. It is expected that this will lead to much greater transparency for program providers offering multiple health programs which, going forward, will be held to near-identical sets of accreditation standards.

Where to go for more information

Please visit the ADC website: http://www.adc.org.au/