Lightning Talk

Social Mission and Accreditation Standards

Thursday, October 15, 2020, 1:05 pm - 2:05 pm EDT

The Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at the George Washington University conducted a formal investigation of accreditation standards of eight accrediting bodies for schools in dentistry, medicine, undergraduate and graduate nursing, physician assistant studies, and pharmacy to assess the extent and scope of social mission content in written accreditation documents. Social mission, as defined by the Beyond Flexner Alliance, is the “contribution of a school in its mission, programs, and the performance of its graduates, faculty and leadership in advancing health equity and addressing the health disparities of the society in which it exists.” This investigation utilized a framework developed by the investigators as part of a larger multi-year study, the Social Mission Metrics Initiative (SMMI), which involved creating and deploying a set of standardized measures for the assessment of social mission in dental, medical, and nursing schools.


The investigators did a quantitative and qualitative analysis of publicly available accreditation documents, including standards documents and self-study guides. Key words and themes related to social mission were coded based on the Social Mission Metrics Initiative framework, which divided social mission activities of a school into eighteen areas. The speakers will provide an overview of the study and describe its results, including differences in the social mission content of accreditation bodies across disciplines. Social mission brings attention to many of the health equity and workforce challenges for these disciplines including the shortage of primary care, the need for interprofessional education, and diversity issues. The investigation is premised on the core belief that accreditation standards play an instrumental role in strengthening health professions schools’ educational outcomes, and ultimately social mission should be considered in the accreditation process to ensure better health for all. This study was supported by the U.S. DHHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration no. U81HP32113.