Continuing Education Credentialing: Accreditation vs. Approval

Just as the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) serves public safety by accrediting naturopathic medicine doctoral training programs, the North American Naturopathic Continuing Education Accreditation Council (NANCEAC) serves public safety by accrediting naturopathic continuing educational programs. Each healthcare profession has a single accreditation body for continuing education purposes, and NANCEAC is the naturopathic profession's CE-accrediting organization.

Continuing education credentialing offers two distinct pathways: accreditation and approval.

  • Accreditation is a formal process that assesses an entire CE program at an organizational level. Each healthcare profession has a single accreditation body for continuing education purposes, and NANCEAC is the naturopathic profession's CE-accrediting organization. NANCEAC sets the industry standard for CE quality, ensuring public safety and best practices for NDs.
  • Approval is an informal process that only assesses a single CE course. There are currently several organizations that approve naturopathic continuing education courses; but, their quality standards are inconsistent and may ultimately jeopardize public safety and undermine the profession.


Benefits of Accredited Continuing Education

Confusion exists surrounding the similarities and differences regarding continuing education accreditation versus approval. And, while both accreditation and approval are types of continuing education credentialing, they differ in critical ways, which may lead to significant differences in the quality standards, the commitment to public safety, and the presence of commercial interest or bias.

An additional point of distinction regarding accreditation is the autonomy of the credentialing body to set its standards and make its own assessment decisions without undue influence by any other entity or agenda. Rather than funding special interests or lobbying efforts, the fees produced by the NANCEAC accreditation process provide direct oversight of accredited CE providers, helping to avoid even the slightest appearance of any conflict of interest and thus maintain the integrity of the accreditation program.

Because of the distinct differences in these two types of credentialing, their terms should never be used interchangeably. For example, the more formal "accreditation" should never be used instead of the less formal “approval,” and vice versa.

It is to the CE provider's advantage to be accredited because this tells the naturopathic profession, its regulators, and the public that the program and its offerings meet the highest standards for content quality, public safety, and lack of commercial bias.

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