CAAM-HP understands that schools are anxious about a site visit and it is just as keen about undertaking these visits. As we try to map out the road ahead, it is necessary to share the following communication from the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) to CAAM-HP:
Recently, we have received a number of enquiries about temporarily different patterns of accreditation during the pandemic. Therefore, we have planned to ask all accrediting agencies with WFME recognition to tell us if they have changed their processes, and to give an account of the equivalence of any new process to the process that was evaluated by our assessment team. Has the CAAM-HP altered its accreditation process in any way in order to carry on with its accreditation activities during this pandemic? Most importantly, the answer should describe any changes that relate to physical site-visits and the possibility of accreditation inspections being done without a site visit (for example site-visit held virtually).
Anyone with experience of accreditation of medical education will know that omission of a site visit is very risky. Many poor-quality schools will not be detected, and accreditation assessments and reports will be incomplete.
We know that some accrediting agencies are already doing this. For WFME, the issue is that we have given recognition for the accreditation process that was inspected by our assessment team. If that process changes radically, we will not know if the new process is equivalent. Recognition Criterion 10 sets out very clearly that a site visit is necessary. Therefore, if an agency chooses to use a virtual accreditation process, the resultant accreditation will be outwith recognition by WFME.
Also, we will advise agencies who have moved to an equivalent virtual element in their process, to follow this up as soon practicable with an actual site visit to confirm their judgement. They will need to inform WFME when that is done. Of course, we cannot stop accrediting agencies doing "virtual" assessments, but equivalence must be shown if recognition is to continue.
The future policy of WFME will remain under review. It is likely that WFME will continue to regard virtual decisions as provisional and interim until such time as a full site visit can be conducted.
In parallel, we have been asked if WFME will assess accrediting agencies for recognition without a site visit, and we will not. To do that would devalue the entire WFME programme.
CAAM-HP continues to monitor the situation and will provide further updates.
December 9, 2020