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Just as other professions use accreditation and licensing systems to improve the well-being of their industries, professionals in the field of equine-assisted activities have a distinction of their own through the Premier Accredited Center Program. The Premier Accredited Center (PAC) Program give centers the chance to demonstrate their excellence in providing quality equine-assisted activities.
This voluntary process recognizes Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Centers that have met established industry standards. The accreditation process is a peer review system in which trained volunteers visit and review centers in accordance with PATH Intl. standards. A center that meets the accreditation requirements based on the administrative, facility, program and applicable special interest standards becomes a Premier Accredited Center for a period of five years. As a leading representative of the EAAT industry, PATH Intl. PACs receive a lot of benefits with being accredited.
PATH Intl. individual members can get involved with the accreditation process by becoming site visitors. This experience offers networking opportunities, travel to other PATH Intl. programs, excellent educational opportunities and first-hand participation in the growth and professional development of our industry.
1. Potential site visitors must have:
a. An in depth knowledge of PATH Intl. standards, including the compliance demonstration of all standards, in order to conduct the visit with minimal use of the standards manual
b. Must know the intent of all standards in order to score correctly
2. Potential site visitors must know accreditation process and procedure:
a. The visit process as documented in the standards manual
b. Visitor responsibilities as documented in the standards manual
3. Have worked in the day-to-day operations at a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center for a minimum of one year or have equivalent experience
4. Successful completion of the CAT course within one year prior to attending the Associate Visitor Training Course
5. Successful completion of the Associate Visitor Training Course
6. Current PATH Intl. membership
7. Availability to attend a visitor update annually
8. Availability to volunteer time to conduct site visits and to participate in continuing education
9. Availability to travel
a. From 2 to 3 times per year
b. For 1 to 3 days at a time
10. Willingness to be reimbursed for travel expenses (when arrangements are made through the PATH Intl. travel agent, most travel expenses will be paid up front by PATH Intl.)
11. Personal skills required:
a. Attention to detail
b. Clear and concise communication
c. Time management
d. Ability to work well with a team
e. Ability to handle conflict professionally
f. Professionally and objectively represent PATH Intl.
This course is designed to guide the center through the accreditation process, from application to the day of the site visit. It is required for centers that intend to apply for accreditation. Centers seeking Premier Accreditation status for the first time are strongly encouraged to attend an in-person CAT. The designated center representative needs to attend this training course and be present the day of the site visit. It is recommended that an alternate representative also attend the CAT. The CAT course can be a useful tool for programs that are starting up as it provides insight into complying with standards, which makes the entire accreditation process much smoother for the program in the future.
PATH Intl. standards are not only important to centers who go through accreditation, but also very important to the ongoing work and daily activities of instructors. Standards were initially developed and tested during instructor certification. The Center Accreditation Training (CAT) and test is presently a part of the Instructor certification process to insure that instructors are aware of and know where to find the latest standards. Standards aren't just for centers. Standards provide guidance to instructors to strive towards best practices.
The CAT course is offered free to PATH Intl. members at PATH Intl. regional conferences and the PATH Intl. conference. It can also be purchased in the PATH Intl. online store for $10.