Accreditation FAQs

As you prepare for accreditation it is important that you take time to become familiar with the process and required materials.
Below you will find answers to many of the most important questions about Accreditation.

Why is accreditation important?

Accreditation is an effort to assess the quality of institutions, programs and services, measuring them against agreed-upon standards and thereby assuring that they meet those standards. In the case of post-secondary education and training, there are two kinds of accreditation: institutional and programmatic (or specialized).

Institutional accreditation helps to assure potential students that a school is a sound institution and has met certain minimum standards in terms of administration, resources, faculty and facilities.

Programmatic accreditation examines specific schools or programs within an educational institution (e.g., the law school, the medical school, the nursing program). The standards by which these programs are measured have generally been developed by the professionals involved in each discipline and are intended to reflect what a person needs to know and be able to do to function successfully within that profession. Accreditation in the health-related disciplines also serves a very important public interest. Along with certification and licensure, accreditation is a tool intended to help assure a well-prepared and qualified workforce providing health care services.

Videos on Accreditation

What is the accreditation initiative?

The National EMS community asked for accreditation as part of the EMS Education Agenda for the Future: A System’s Approach (2000). The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) EMS at the Crossroads (2006) also recommended a single national EMS accrediting agency for the country as part of a process of standardization in EMS education.

Additionally, several current research articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals indicate an increased success rate on national certification exams from graduates of nationally accredited Paramedic programs.

At the present time, EMS is one of the few allied health care professions that does not require its educational programs to be accredited. If the EMS professions are to ever enjoy the stability, respect, and benefits of being considered an allied health care profession, we must strive to meet nationally established standards of adult medical education.

In November 2007, the Board of Directors of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) voted to require that paramedic applicants for certification graduate from an “accredited” paramedic program effective January 1, 2013. The NREMT is requiring programmatic accreditation as outlined in the EMS Education Agenda for the Future. Institutional accreditation does not meet the purpose of accreditation outlined in the Agenda. Therefore, the NREMT will be requiring accreditation by the CoAEMSP.

The EMS community believes that combining this accreditation requirement with state licensure/certification will help assure the protection of students and ensure that paramedic candidates are well prepared and qualified to provide safe and effective out- of-hospital care.

What are the benefits of accreditation of paramedic educational programs?

Accreditation helps answer the question: How good is this educational program?

The benefits cited most often by accredited programs include:

  • Outside quality improvement
  • Maintaining curriculum currency
  • Ability for graduates to obtain employment
  • Research indicates that graduates of accredited EMS education programs perform better on the NREMT exam
  • Marketing

In addition, the quality of your program is important to:

  • Your bosses and colleagues
  • Your students
  • Potential students, their parents, their families and even their counselors
  • Your competitors
  • Licensing boards, certifying agencies and other government agencies
  • Future employers of your students
  • Other members of your profession including fellow employees of your students
  • The patient
Is the CoAEMSP the only nationally accrediting agency for EMS?

YES. Although the Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the actual accrediting agency, the CoAEMSP, working under the auspices of CAAHEP, represents the EMS profession and has for over 30 years when the Paramedic was recognized as an allied health occupation by the American Medical Association in 1975. Currently, the CoAEMSP Board of Directors is sponsored by the following organizations:

These Sponsors represent the specialties and organizations of the EMS profession and are all committed to the accreditation process. Two members from each sponsoring organization serve on the Board of Directors.

Are workshops or webinars available for learning more about the accreditation process?

Yes, both workshops and webinars are available. View upcoming events and watch archived webinars here.

Accreditation workshops.
Accreditation workshops are held across the country and cover topics such as accreditation overview, self study, site visit preparation, and the preparation of annual reports. A current listing of workshops can be found here.

Accreditation webinars.
Accreditation webinars sponsored by the CoAEMSP assist with the accreditation process and answer your questions about accreditation. These webinars are typically held on a monthly basis. A current list of webinars can be found here.

What are the steps in the accreditation process?

The steps are outlined below.

Step 1

The program becomes familiar with the resources available in the Becoming Accredited section of the CoAEMSP website.

The program also becomes familiar with the resources available on www.caahep.org, including Your Accreditation Mentor (YAM). YAM is a free service from CAAHEP to all program directors, but especially to newly appointed program directors, to guide their understanding of the accreditation process and to advise them on good practices. It consists of narrative pages, video vignettes, reference readings, and links to various resources. YAM is about succeeding at one of the key processes of the program director’s job: accreditation, assuring that their program meets or exceeds standards and therefore serves its students and other stakeholders well.

Step 3
The program downloads the Letter of Review Self Study Report (LSSR).

Step 4
The program conducts a self-evaluation that culminates in a Self Study Report to the CoAEMSP.

Step 5
The program submits either a completed LSSR or ISSR and the application fees to CoAEMSP.

Step 6
The CoAEMSP Executive Director reads the Self Study Report, completes an Executive Analysis, and evaluates the Self Study Report to determine the Program’s readiness to receive a site visit.

If the program submitted a LSSR, then the program will either:
Receive its Letter of Review and informed of the date of which the ISSR is due
– or –
If major problems exist in the LSSR, clarification of further documentation may be requested prior to issuing the LoR.

After the above is complete, then the accreditation process will start over and will follow the ISSR pathway as outlined.

Step 7
If major problems exist in the ISSR, clarification or further documentation may be requested prior to a site visit of the program.

Step 8
The Executive Analysis is sent to the Program Director.

Step 9
The site visit team conducts a review, including an exit summation to present its findings verbally to the institution and Program representatives. The site visit is scheduled with input from both the Program and the site visit team.

Step 10
After the site visit, the site visit team completes and submits to CoAEMSP the Site Visit Report. The CoAEMSP Executive Office writes a concise Findings Letter to the Program detailing the Program’s strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for improvement.

Step 11
The Site Visit Report is sent to the Program Director and/or an appropriate institutional official to provide an opportunity for comment and for correction of factual errors and observations as well as submission of additional information.

Step 12
The accreditation recommendation is formulated by CoAEMSP based upon review of the Self Study Report, the Site Visit Report and other appropriate information.

Step 13
CoAEMSP recommendation is forwarded to CAAHEP. If the CoAEMSP’s recommendation is for probation or accreditation withhold or withdraw, the program is notified and offered the opportunity to request reconsideration.

Step 14
The CAAHEP Board of Directors reviews and votes on recommendations from the CoAEMSP.

Step 15
The institution and the Program are informed of the accreditation action taken by the CAAHEP Board.

I thought state EMS offices were responsible for authorizing training programs in my state. Does the CAAHEP accreditation process supersede our state EMS office?

NO. Individual state laws, rules and requirements remain the central authority for who is authorized to provide EMS education in each state. The accreditation process is designed to supplement and support state EMS offices in providing clear guidelines and standards for education.

The CAAHEP process is not designed to be punitive and is not an enforcement tool. The CAAHEP Standards are relatively broad since they apply to all programs throughout the United States. Individual states may have more specific requirements, or implement standards related to issues in their locale. Ultimately, the state EMS office remains the point authority in terms of allowing programs to function. However, state EMS offices are informed of the accreditation process of programs in their jurisdiction. This information includes notification of applications, scheduling of site visits, and other routine public matters throughout the accreditation process. Through the CoAEMSP structure, input from state EMS directors and state EMS training coordinators is solicited in the development of the CAAHEP Standards.

Can you explain the self-study, on-site evaluation, and committee review and recommendation?

The Self Study – the program does its own analysis of how well it measures up to the established CAAHEP Standards, which culminates into the Self Study Report.

The Site Visit consists of a team of “site visitors” who travel to the institution to determine how accurately the self study report reflects the status of the program and to answer any additional questions that arise. This is a “peer review” process and often, after the formal part of the site visit is concluded, team members will share ideas for how a program can be strengthened or improved.

The Committee Review and Recommendation consists of the CoAEMSP reviewing the Site Visit Report, the Program’s response from the Findings Letter, and other documentation provided during the review process and making a recommendation to CAAHEP. If there are areas where the program fails to meet the CAAHEP Standards, these “deficiencies” are identified and progress reports are requested to assure that each program continues its efforts to fully comply with all of the Standards. The CAAHEP Board of Directors acts upon the recommendation forwarded from the CoAEMSP, assuring that due process has been met and the Standards are applied consistently and equitably.

How long does the accreditation process take?

One size DOES NOT fit all. Every educational program is different and they will each contain unique areas. Therefore, each application for accreditation receives individual attention by the CoAEMSP and so each timeframe varies. For programs awarded accreditation in 2012, the average length of time for the accreditation process was 13- 17 months.

How much does it cost to become accredited?

Generally, accreditation costs approximately 8.4 cents for each student for each contact hour. Since the average Paramedic course is between 1000-1200 hours (1100 hour average), $92.00 per student ÷1100 hours =$0.084 per student per contact hour, which the CoAEMSP considers a minimal cost to the program for their accreditation investment.
To see the CoAEMSP Program Fees, click here.

How do we get started?

JUST DO IT! As mentioned in the famous advertisement, getting started is the hardest thing to do. As you prepare for accreditation it is important that you take time to become familiar with the process and required materials. All of the information and resources you need are in the ‘Becoming Accredited’ section of the CoAEMSP website.

Is it mandatory that our program be affiliated with a college or university?

No; however, the program MUST meet one of the sponsorship requirements outlined in the CAAHEP Standards and Guidelines. There are a number of sponsorship options. A sponsor can be:

  • A post-secondary academic institution accredited by an institutional accrediting agency. This is a college, university, community college, or junior college that is accredited by a regional or national institutional accrediting body. Vocational schools, proprietary schools, and religious schools may be accredited by regional accrediting agencies or specialized institutional accrediting bodies. A list of approved accrediting organizations can be found on the US Department of Education web site.
  • A foreign post-secondary academic institution approved by CAAHEP. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • A hospital, clinic, or medical center may be a sponsor under certain conditions. The hospital, clinic, or medical center must maintain permanent records, must insure quality of the program, and must assure that all fair practices are followed. A hospital, clinic, or medical center may be a sponsor:
    • It must be accredited by The Joint Commission or its equivalent, and authorized by the State to provide health care
    • It must have one of the following:
      an accredited allied health program where the entity is the primary sponsor,
      – OR –
      an office of graduate medical education with at least one residency program for postgraduate physician education
      -OR-
      an articulation agreement with an accredited educational institution (Standard I.A.1) which can provide college credits for the training.
  • An articulation agreement is an agreement between an educational institution and a training facility to provide college credit to individuals completing the training program. This agreement allows students to receive college credit if they enroll at the educational institution; it does not require that students who do not register receive college credit.
  • A governmental fire academy or EMS training agency may be a sponsor:
    • It must be an agency of the federal, state, city, or county government
    • It must be authorized by the State to provide initial educational programs It must – – EITHER – –
      have an articulation agreement with an educational institution (Standard I.A.1.) that can provide college credits for the training, if it cannot give credits in its own rights
      — OR – –
      be recognized by the state as a postsecondary educational institution
  • A consortium sponsor is an entity consisting of two or more members that exists for the purpose of operating an educational program. In such instances, at least one of the members of the consortium must meet the requirements of a sponsoring educational institution as described in I.A.
  • A consortium agreement is made, which is an agreement, contract, or memorandum of understanding between two entities to provide governance of a program. The members of the consortium set up a separate Board to establish and run an educational program. The governance, lines of authority, and roles of each partner must be established in the agreement, and have an organizational chart.
Does our accreditation expire?

With the exception of initial status, CAAHEP accreditation is not time limited, but remains in place until another action is taken. The interval between program evaluations is five (5) years. The CAAHEP Board of Directors reserves the right to place a program on probation or withdraw accreditation at such time that the program no longer meets CAAHEP Standards and has been appropriately notified.

Can CAAHEP help with the accreditation process?

Yes, CAAHEP offers a free service called Your Accreditation Mentor (YAM). YAM is for all program directors, especially newly appointed program directors. YAM helps program directors understand the accreditation process, advises them on good practices, and helps them succeed in accreditation—one of the key processes of their job. The YAM website consists of narrative pages, video vignettes, reference readings, and links to various resources.

What other organizations are related to accreditation that might have useful information?

There are a number of organizations that are related to accreditation. They are listed below: