The COCA Handbook Highlights

Speakers: The Medical Education Committee, COSGP

Written by: Jordan F. Geroski, OU-HCOM

The Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (The COCA) is made up of 17 members that meet three times a year to discuss the accreditation processes for Colleges and Schools of Osteopathic Medicine.  Currently, no student voting members sit on The COCA.  As a branch of the United Stated Department of Education (USDE), The COCA is not directly tied to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) but must report any happenings, changes, updates to the AOA.  The COCA has a COM Accreditation Standards and Procedures handbook consisting of 9 chapters outlining the standards and procedures of The COCA.  Below are a small number of highlights of each standard.

  • Standard 1 – Mission, Goals, and Objectives
    • Encourages schools to continually evaluate and update their mission statement
    • Schools must release statistics on each class’s COMLEX performance to their students
  • Standard 2 – Governance, Administration, and Finance — If a school is part of a larger university then that school must be USDE accredited
  • Standard 3 – Facilities, Equipment, and Resources
  • Standard 4 – Faculty — schools must have faculty development program for continued development
  • Standard 5 – Students — schools must provide information about behavioral health programs to their students (availability of counselors, etc)
  • Standard 6 – Curriculum
    • Inter-professionalism must be a part of the education
    • Basic knowledge of components of research must be a part of the curriculum
  • Standard 7 – Research and Scholarly Activities — the school must do some form of research
  • Standard 8 – GME outcomes — the school must annually publically report acceptance and first time pass rate on the Level 3 examinations
  • Standard 9 – Prerequisites for Accreditation — this additional chapter pertains new colleges and schools. It contains information regarding starting a new COM/SOM.

Summary of the Applicant and Accreditation procedures:

  • Status progression
    • Applicant status – “I want to open a COM/SOM”
    • Pre-accreditation status (must be within 5 years of applicant status) – the Dean must be among the first hires
    • Provisional accreditation status – must be achieved by March in the year which the first class graduates and can be kept for up to 5 years
    • Accreditation status – this must be renewed every 7 years
      • “Accreditation with warning” remains private between The COCA and the school
      • “Accreditation with probation” becomes public knowledge
    • Self-study process
      • completed by a COM in preparation for their actual The COCA visit
      • Self-study must be sent to The COCA 60 days prior to the actual The COCA visit
    • On-site visit procedures – meetings are held between The COCA members and faculty, students, and administration

Information on The COCA can be accessed at www.aoacoca.org.

The full Accreditation of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine: COM Accreditation Standards and Procedures can be found at http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/accreditation/predoctoral%20accreditation/Documents/COM-accreditation-standards-current.pdf.