Accreditation evaluation framework – The Australian Dental Council

Understanding and evaluating the impact of dental program accreditation

Overview

Professional accreditation provides an assessment of the quality of training delivered by education providers and a mechanism for accountability against professional standards. It ensures that education providers produce graduates who are sufficiently competent to join the workforce and, within the healthcare sector, ensures graduates can perform their roles safely and effectively. Although approaches differ, the ultimate goal is to ensure the public receive safe and high-quality care from practitioners who graduate from accredited programs. However, despite the widespread implementation of professional accreditation, there is a limited evidence base regarding its impacts and how to enhance these.

To better understand the impact of accreditation, the ADC commissioned RAND Australia to undertake a research project titled Understanding and evaluating the impact of dental program accreditation.

The research aimed to develop a framework that will help the ADC to identify and measure whether its accreditation activities are effective in producing competent and safe dental practitioners and to assess the overall impact of accreditation on the oral health of the Australian population.

The framework articulates the ways in which ADC accreditation activities support their intended outcomes and impacts. It highlights the dual nature of ADC’s activities:

  • the activities the ADC does to accredit individual programs of study; and,
  • the broader strategic activities that are undertaken to support and improve accreditation standards and processes.

It brings together a logic model, mechanisms of impact, indicators and strategies for measuring impact.

Next steps

This project is an important first step in the ADC’s work to evaluate the impact of dental program accreditation. We are now working to undertake broader stakeholder consultation to further test and refine this framework as this research is intended to be of interest and applicable to a range of stakeholders. The aim of the next stage of this project will be to demonstrate impact beyond the dental sector and to highlight the importance of program accreditation within health and professional accreditation more broadly.