Sign In

Definitions of key terms

The process by which the Committee on Program Accreditation recognizes educational programs that meet the requirements for accreditation.

The outcome of the successful completion of accreditation.

Adequate supervision
The direct supervision of a student in the clinical setting by a certified/registered/academically qualified practitioner at all times until student competence in a given procedure is achieved. Once competence in a given clinical procedure is achieved, students must still be supervised by a certified/registered/academically qualified practitioner but the supervision may be indirect provided the supervisor is on the premises and in a position to assist the student immediately, if required.

Application for accreditation
An application for accreditation is the first step in initiating the process of becoming registered and then accredited. Once the application form has been completed and requisite fee received, the program is considered registered.

The process by which a program's evidence is reviewed by a survey team to ascertain whether the evidence meets the accreditation criteria.

The process by which the national professional body for each health science profession recognizes individuals who have attained the competencies for the profession and any other pre-determined qualifications.

Clinical education
The planned learning experiences for students in an actual clinical environment (e.g., actual hospital, clinic, laboratory or ambulance), that is representative of the current practice setting of the designated health science profession. In some professions, the national competency profile specifies the competencies that must be performed in the actual practice setting of the profession, and which competencies may be performed in a simulated clinical environment.

Clinical or practicum site
A clinical institution or agency that provides one or more students with a learning experience or rotation in the practice setting of the profession.

Clinical simulation
A structured learning activity in which key elements of the practice setting of a health profession are replicated, for example, through the use of mock patient cases or specimens, mannequins, clinical scenarios or standardized patients. Simulation activities can range from performance of simple clinical procedures to clinical assessment and decision-making in a high-fidelity re-creation of a complex patient case.

A behaviour (or set of behaviours) that demonstrates or reflects an element or elements such as knowledge, skills or attitudes required by an individual to perform a given task. There should be congruence between competencies and learning outcomes.

Competency attainment
An educational program in a health science profession provides students with an educational experience that ensures a logical progression toward competency attainment. This progression includes the following:

Theoretical learning and clinical simulation
Theoretical learning and clinical simulation activities are integral components of the educational process, and facilitate the acquisition of foundational knowledge and specific skills. As well, the opportunity to manage simulated patient cases can assist in the development of clinical readiness for direct patient contact. Clinical simulation is also useful for competency attainment in low-frequency and/or high-risk clinical procedures.

Direct patient contact in the practice setting of the profession
A health science education program also enables students to attain and demonstrate competencies through direct patient contact in the actual practice setting of the profession. Students have the opportunity to integrate knowledge, skills, attitudes and judgment in real clinical situations that require problem-solving, communication and critical thinking to address patient needs and conditions. A program makes every effort to optimize a student's experience with real patients; however, it is recognized that it may not be feasible for the student to perform all competencies in actual clinical situations.

The outcome of a well-integrated learning experience is a practitioner who has attained the competencies required for safe and effective practice at entry to the profession.

Competency-based objective
A behaviour reflecting a specific element or elements such as knowledge, skills or behaviours to be attained by the learner in achieving a given competency.

Competency-based objectives are developed by individual programs according to the competencies specified in the national competency profile for the profession.

Components of an objective (as identified in traditional approaches to behavioural objectives):

Condition - A boundary placed on the learner.
Act - The behaviour performed by the learner.
Standard - An acceptable level of performance of the act by the learner.

Objectives are sometimes classified as enabling/learning objectives and terminal objectives. Enabling/learning objectives refer to specific behaviours demonstrated by learners as they proceed toward achieving the terminal objectives or competencies.

The performance level of a program that meets the critical criteria for a requirement for accreditation and at least two-thirds of all criteria for the requirement.

Contact person
The individual designated by the program to communicate with all program sites and Conjoint Accreditation Services.

Contact site
The institution or agency designated by the program to serve as the communication link between all program sites and Conjoint Accreditation Services. The contact site must be located in Canada.

Corporate authority
The body responsible for making strategic and financial decisions regarding an educational program, and awarding the diploma/certificate/degree to graduates upon their successful completion of program requirements. The corporate authority may be one corporation/agency (single corporate authority) or a partnership of two or more agencies (joint corporate authority). A joint corporate authority is expected to designate one agency as the contact site for the program for purposes of the accreditation process (see also Contact site).

The acceptable level of performance against which actual performance is assessed in determining a program's compliance with a requirement.

Critical criterion
An essential element of program performance for compliance with a requirement.

Didactic education
The planned learning experiences for students in an actual or virtual academic environment (e.g., actual or virtual classroom, computer-based learning centre, or audio-visual centre).

Didactic delivery site
A location where didactic education is delivered. A program may have one didactic delivery site or may have multiple sites, i.e., satellite sites.

Formative assessment
Assessment that takes place during instruction in order to provide direction for improvement for individual students. The information gathered is used for the specific purpose of helping students improve while they are still gaining knowledge and practicing skills.

The interrelationship of all components of the educational process to produce a cohesive educational experience for the student.

Learning outcome
A result of learning. A measured level of performance that demonstrates the degree to which a given competency (or set of competencies) has been attained by the learner.

Learning resource
An element or elements used to support student education, including classroom and library facilities, laboratory and clinical facilities, written and audio-visual materials, equipment and clinical experience.

Licensure/mandatory registration
A process by which a regulatory body permits individuals who have obtained the necessary credentials or qualifications to engage in a particular occupation or profession and/or to use a particular title.

National competency profile
A list of the competencies accepted by the certification and regulatory bodies for a given health science profession as the basis for entry to the profession in 70% or more of the provinces/territories in which profession is practiced including 50% or more of all practitioners from all provinces/territories. Ideally, a national competency profile for a given health science profession is the basis for entry to the profession in all provinces/territories in which the profession is practiced.

Natural justice
A legal philosophy that embodies the principles of procedural fairness and objective decision making.

The performance level of a program that fails to meet more than one critical criterion for a requirement for accreditation or the performance level of a program that meets less than one-half of the criteria for a requirement.

Parallel program model
An alternative format or additional stream of an accredited program, delivered under the same corporate authority, encompassing the same competencies but containing different program elements for one or more critical criteria. A parallel program model is assessed concurrently with its parent program but accorded a separate accreditation status to reflect the differences in critical program elements.

Partial compliance
The performance level of a program that fails to meet one critical criterion for a requirement for accreditation or the performance level of a program that meets at least one-half but less than two-thirds of the criteria for a requirement.

The part of a program consisting of practical field work. The practicum occurs in the actual practice setting of the profession, e.g., hospital, clinic, ambulance.

Peer review
An examination and evaluation of the performance of a program by a survey team or committee made up of individuals who are from or affiliated with similar accredited programs.

Performance data
Data specifically collected from all relevant program stakeholder groups for the purpose of informing timely evidence-based actions for program quality improvement.

Performance environment
A performance environment specifies the setting in which a student must demonstrate proficiency or attainment of competency. Examples of performance environments include the academic environment (A), simulation environment (S), the clinical environment (C) and the preceptorship environment (P).

A practicing member of a designated health science profession.

An expert or specialist, such as a technologist or practitioner, who provides practical experience and training to a student.

The integrated resources and educational components of all sites (didactic and clinical) participating in the delivery of the educational process.

Program goal
A stated purpose of an educational program.

Program outcome
A result achieved by an educational program. There should be congruence between program outcomes and program goals.

Program personnel
Individuals who have a role in administering or facilitating the educational process, including the provision of medical or educational input and advice.

A process by which a certification or regulatory body lists qualified individuals on that agency's official roster.

Registered (for accreditation)
A program is considered registered once its application form and fee have been submitted and accepted and a visit date has been established. A program remains registered until such time as a status has been accorded or the registration is withdrawn.

An outcome that a program must demonstrate to achieve accreditation. Compliance with a requirement requires a program to meet the critical criteria for that requirement, and at least two-thirds of all criteria for the requirement.

A limited onsite assessment of a program against one or more criteria, conducted when the program's follow-up report does not provide clear evidence of compliance and further evidence of the program's progress toward compliance is required to avoid an assessment of non-compliance and withdrawal of accreditation.
Summative evaluation
Evaluation that occurs at the end of important segments of student learning. It is used to summarize and communicate what students know and can do with respect to curriculum expectations.

A program that is neither registered nor accredited. An accredited program may become unaccredited pursuant to voluntary withdrawal by the program, failure to pay fees or withdrawal of accreditation by the Committee on Program Accreditation. A registered program who has never been accredited and fails to meet the accreditation requirements is also deemed unaccredited.
Definitions of key terms