Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Sponsorship

What is sponsorship?
Sponsorship refers to the college, hospital, or program’s authority to provide higher education in your state which awards a minimum of a certificate. The United States Department of Education is a resource that provides information regarding authorization to offer post-secondary education.

Does JRC-DMS accept the Joint Commission formerly known as the JCAHO as an authorized sponsor?
Yes, this meets standard option number two under sponsorship.

The Radiography Program (and/or other medical education programs) at my institution has acceptable sponsorship and my program falls under their program, will that suffice for my program’s sponsorship?
It depends. If documents that authorize your institution to provide higher education specifically refer to your DMS program, it may be sufficient.

Our hospital/institution has another CAAHEP-accredited program and they did not get cited for sponsorship. Why did I?
Each profession has its own set of standards and a review board or committee on accreditation. Another CAAHEP-accredited profession’s standard would not apply to sonography.

Program Goals

What is the intent of defining program goals?
Established program goals should guide the actions within the program to yield successful program outcomes in all three learning domains. Assessment of the various components of the educational program must be conducted routinely and in a timely manner to provide an appropriate action if applicable.

Who are the expected members on the advisory committee?
The members of the advisory committee should reflect the communities of interest served as described in the CAAHEP Standards and Guidelines Part II Program Goals and Outcomes. Members must represent the following communities of interest, but is not limited to, student representative(s), graduate(s), faculty, sponsor administration, employers, physician(s), and a public (community) member. Definition of public member can be found in CAAHEP’s Policies and Procedures manual in section 506 at www.caahep.org/documents/file/PolicyManual.pdf.

Resources

Is the Program Director required to possess all credentials for the concentrations the program offers?
The program director must meet the qualifications as listed in the Standards and Guidelines. In the event, the program director does not possess the credentials for one or more concentrations, a Concentration Coordinator must be appointed. Qualifications for Concentration Coordination are listed in the 2011 Standards and Guidelines.

Is the Clinical Coordinator required to possess all credentials for the concentrations the program offers?
The Clinical Coordinator must meet the qualifications as listed in the Standards and Guidelines. In the event, the clinical coordinator does not possess all of the credentials required for the concentration(s) being evaluated, other individual(s) must be designated and must meet the same qualifications as stated in the Standards and Guidelines as the clinical coordinator.

How is proficiency in instructional methodologies, curricular development, evaluation and assessment documented?
Knowledge and experience in instructional methodologies, curricular development, evaluation and assessment can be acquired in a variety of mechanisms. Examples include, but are not limited to, previous teaching experience, higher education coursework, higher education conference/seminars, internal faculty mentoring and development, and/or professional society educator or clinical educator seminars.

In the Standards, it states that if a program has 8 or more clinical affiliates/clinical education centers they must have a clinical coordinator. Does that mean 8 or more sites listed as affiliates, or more than 8 sites but not more than 8 students?
The number of sites/centers determines your need to have a clinical coordinator, not the number of students. A clinical affiliate/clinical education center refers to a physical location where a student, or students, are placed to meet the clinical requirements of the course of study. If the location of a center(s) is physically in a different location, for example on a separate floor of a clinic or hospital, it must be considered a separate location for the purposes of needing a clinical coordinator. However, it may not necessarily require a separate clinical affiliation agreement with your program.

Clinical Sites and Clinical Instructors

Do I need to document the credentials for all of the clinical instructors at my clinical sites for the site visit team during my site visit?
Yes. A current copy of each designated clinical instructor’s credentials must be available for the site visitors to review. Verification of credentials through the ARDMS, ARRT, and/or CCI websites is acceptable. If other sonographers work at the site(s) but are not listed as the designated clinical instructor, you do not need to provide documentation of credentials for these individuals. Only appropriately credentialed sonographers are permitted to perform evaluations and/or competencies with the students.

When you ask for clinical instructor information, do you mean the one designated by the program and the site, or all sonographers that will have contact with the students at the site?
An appropriately credentialed sonographer must be designated at each site. “Appropriate credentials” refers to the procedures and learning concentration the clinical instructor oversees. If a site is recognized for abdomen and obstetric and gynecologic rotations, designated instructor(s) must be credentialed in those specialties. You may choose to have one instructor for abdomen and one for OB-Gyn, or a single instructor who holds both credentials could be designated. For a current list of the JRC-DMS accepted credentials, see Policy 5.17.

Can a clinical affiliate site accept students from more than one program?
Yes. There is no Standard prohibiting sharing a site. Whether your program shares sites or not, resources at all sites must support the number of students placed there.

When can I submit paperwork for recognition of a new clinical site?
There are three times the paperwork for recognition of clinical sites may be submitted or deleted from your clinical site list; with your submission of a self-study, with your response to a findings letter/progress report, OR with your annual report. Requests to recognize an added or deleted site that are submitted at any other time will not be processed and will be returned to the program (see Policy 9.00). Remember, you can use new or added clinical sites at anytime. It is your responsibility to ensure they meet the Standards for recognition.

I submitted the $50.00 clinical affiliate recognition fee, and my clinical site wasn’t recognized. Do I have to pay the fee again if I resubmit for recognition of the site?
Yes. The fee is a processing fee.

Can I use a clinical site prior to recognition by JRC-DMS?
Programs may use clinical sites prior to recognition by JRC-DMS if the site satisfies the criteria outlined in the Standards and Guidelines. If a site is used prior to JRC-DMS recognition, it must be submitted with the NEXT annual report, self-study, or your letter responding to the findings of a site visit, whichever is soonest. (see Policy 9.00)

What happens if the documentation for a clinical site I’ve been using and submitted is not recognized by JRC-DMS?
It is the program’s responsibility to determine if a site meets Standards when it begins to place students. If the clinical site does not meet Standards, and, thus, is not recognized by JRC-DMS, the student(s) must be removed and placed at an alternate clinical site that satisfies the CAAHEP Standards, immediately upon notification from JRC-DMS. (see Policy 9.00)

Curriculum

Can a program that is one year in duration be CAAHEP-accredited?
Yes. While it is true the guidelines recommend 18 months for one learning concentration and six months for each additional learning concentration, it is not required in the Standards. Programs are reviewed and accreditation is awarded on the basis of substantial compliance and successful outcomes. This means that if a program demonstrates compliance with the Standards, and acceptable outcomes, and is less than 18 months in duration, it may become accredited.

Why must I apply for cardiac AND vascular accreditation for my “cardiovascular” program?
Cardiovascular is not considered a learning concentration in the Standards. A program can be accredited in the cardiac concentration, vascular concentration, or both. Although there are some components of vascular in cardiac and cardiac in vascular, they are recognized as separate specialties (learning concentrations) by JRC-DMS.

Curriculum Requisites

The Curriculum Requisites (2011, Section III.C.1.) states, “The following curriculum requisites must be met prior to the beginning of the core curriculum of the diagnostic medical sonography education program…” What does this mean?
The student must complete the listed courses before starting the core-sonography courses of the program.

Do curriculum requisites have to be college level courses?
Yes.

What does college level mean?
It means that college credit is earned.

What types of courses qualify as college level?
Some examples include: traditional college courses taken while enrolled as a student in a college, courses taken for college credit while still in high school, courses taken at a local community college that awards college credits; advanced placement high school courses that were awarded college credit; and any post-secondary courses at an institution accredited to teach and award college credits.

Credit Hours

How can I convert clock hours to credit hours?
Check with your college or sponsor to see if they have a required formula. Many colleges use the following:

  • Classroom/Didactic Hours
    16 contact/clock hours = 1 credit hour
  • Clinical Rotation/Lab Hours
    Variable and greatly affected by the college or program’s prerogative

Master Plan

What is the definition and expectation of the Master Plan?
Master Plan is defined as an organized file detailing the program’s goals and objectives, course materials, forms, and assessment results. The Master Plan should be organized to provide continuation of the program in the event key program faculty/personnel can no longer perform the services for the program. The master plan can be organized in a variety of ways to include binders, files, or electronic files. In addition to the items listed in the Standards Section III. C. 2. Titled Master Plan, there is a checklist of items that are to be available at time of site visit found in the self study application part D. This list can be used as a guide for items to be included in the Master Plan.

Substantive Changes

What are the consequences if a program fails to report substantive changes?
Substantive changes include but are not limited to, changes of chief executive officer, dean of health professions or equivalent position, program director, concentration coordinator, and Clinical coordinator, if applicable; curriculum changes, increase or decrease required student clinical hours, change in degree being awarded or change in sponsorship. Changes in clinical sites and instructors need only be indicated in the program's annual report. Failure to report changes to the JRC-DMS in a timely manner will result in a $500.00 charge to the program.

What information do I need to provide when requesting approval for substantive change?
Facilities should complete and return the Request for Recognition of Substantive Change Form.

Outcomes

What are outcomes?
Outcomes are measures of success in meeting program goals. The Standards require you track your success through results from student, graduate, and employer surveys, credentialing success rates, attrition, and employment data. See Standard II.A. (2011)

How can I become accredited if I have no outcomes data?
If a new program is in substantial compliance with the Standards, but does not have outcomes data, they will be asked to send outcomes data to JRC-DMS when they become available, in either a progress report or an annual report.

What do I do if I have no outcomes data to report in the self-study?
Programs without outcomes data should not leave these items blank in the self-study. Instead, programs should provide the tools they will use to gather the outcomes, and provide a plan for how the outcomes will be collected and what the program will do with the information.

How will I notify JRC-DMS when I do have outcomes data?
Programs without outcomes data are required to submit these results after accreditation is achieved, in the annual report.

Clinical Hours

Is there a set number of clinical hours required by JRC-DMS?
No, the Standards and JRC-DMS do not set a specific number of hours for clinical or didactic education. Instead, your outcomes must support that your program design, including number of clinical hours supports success by meeting the program’s goals and achieving the thresholds set by JRC-DMS.

Fair Practices

The self-study requires that I submit information regarding compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Technical Standards. What is this?
JRC-DMS requires that programs have a policy regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For ideas and suggestions to meet this Standard, you may want to contact other accredited sonography programs or educator’s groups, such as those through the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS), American Society of Echocardiography (ASE), or the Society for Vascular Ultrasound (SVU).

Applying for Accreditation

When can a program apply for initial accreditation?
After your own internal review of the Standards and determining that you are in substantial compliance, you may apply for initial accreditation at any time. Students must be participating in clinical rotations prior to a site visit occurring, so you will want to time submission of the application and self-study appropriately.

How long is initial accreditation?
Initial accreditation is awarded for five years, during which time you will have the opportunity to demonstrate outcomes (measures of success) that meet the thresholds established by JRC-DMS. However, initial accreditation will expire unless your program pursues continuing accreditation. JRC-DMS will notify you when your next review is due.

Why am I being reviewed again (submitting another self-study) if I just received initial accreditation?
Programs are awarded initial accreditation for a five-year period, at the end of which the accreditation will expire unless the program is reviewed and awarded continuing accreditation. CAAHEP requires that to receive a continuing accreditation status, programs must undergo a full comprehensive review, including a self-study, site visit, review by the JRC-DMS Board, and a recommendation to the CAAHEP Board.

If I have initial accreditation, how do I apply for continuing accreditation?
JRC-DMS notifies initial programs that their accreditation will expire and what steps they must take to be considered for continuing accreditation.

Example: From the date in which initial accreditation is awarded, five years later, initial accreditation will expire. The JRCDMS will notify programs approximately 18 to 24 months in advance of expiration requesting submission of a new self study, which will initiate the comprehensive review process to avoid expiration of your accreditation.

If your program already has a continuing accreditation status, you will be notified when your next comprehensive review is due. Continuing accreditation does not expire. All programs must go through a comprehensive review approximately every five years.

Is it possible to obtain accreditation before any students graduate from a program?
Yes, it is possible to obtain accreditation prior to graduating a class, but there are no guarantees and a program is prohibited from promoting or advertising possible, pending, or anticipated accreditation to students or the public

My program is not accredited yet. At what point will my students be eligible to sit for their certification examinations?
Eligibility questions must be directed to the certification bodies:

How does a program receive a 10-year accreditation award?
Programs who meet the criteria as listed in JRC-DMS Policies and Procedure Subject 9.05 for consideration of a 10-year award are required to submit a request at the time of submission of the program’s self study. The letter should include how the program meets the criteria listed in the policy including dates in which accreditation awards were granted. Policy can be found at jrcdms.org/policies.htm.

How do I apply and what is the process from submission of self study to receiving notification of the final decision from Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)?
The accreditation process is a comprehensive review offering peer review oversight from the initial submission to final decision. There are several steps that occur within the accreditation process.

  • The program completes the Request for Application Services located on the CAAHEP website.
  • Program completes and submits its self-study and appropriate fees to the JRC-DMS office.
  • The self study is reviewed by a JRC-DMS board member or designated reviewer referred to as application reviewer. After review is complete, the reviewer may do one or both of the following:
    • Request additional information from the program
    • Request the site visit to be scheduled.
  • Site visit is scheduled and an onsite evaluation occurs.
  • Site visit report is reviewed by the application reviewer. A letter of findings is sent to the program providing opportunity to respond to the findings, including action plans to correct areas found to not be in compliance with the standards.
  • Program’s response is reviewed by the application reviewer.
  • The JRC-DMS board will review may take the following actions:
    • Request additional information from the program.
      • Upon receipt of the response, it will be reviewed by the application reviewer and brought to the board again for a recommendation to CAAHEP.
    • Make a recommendation to CAAHEP.
  • CAAHEP board of directors will review, make final decision and notify the program of the decision. The decision options are:
    • Accreditation
    • Probation
    • Withhold
    • Withdraw ( voluntary or involuntary)

What can I expect for the site visit?
The program should prepare financially for two site visitors’ travel, hotel accommodations, (budget for a stay of three (3) nights for each member of the team) and meals. The site visit typically requires two full days for the team to meet with the program’s communities of interest (faculty, medical advisor, students, graduates and clinical sites), review documents and visit selected clinical affiliates. An example of events occurring during the site visit can be found in the Sample Agenda located at jrcdms.org/sitevisit.htm.