CAAHEP was organized as a separate organization in 1994 after originating in the Committee on Allied Health Education Accreditation of the American Medical Association (AMA). It is the largest programmatic and specialized accreditor in the health sciences field in the United States. McPherson stated that CAAHEP currently accredits more than 2,200 programs across the country in 1,300 sponsoring institutions, including colleges and universities as well as technical schools. CAAHEP accredits programs in 23 health sciences occupations:

  1.   Advanced cardiac sonographer

  2.   Anesthesia assistant

  3.   Anesthesia technology

  4.   Cardiovascular technology

  5.   Cytotechnology

  6.   Diagnostic medical sonography

  7.   Electroneurodiagnostic technology

  8.   Emergency medical technician–paramedic

  9.   Exercise physiology

10.   Exercise science

11.   Kinesiotherapy

12.   Lactation consultant

13.   Medical assisting

14.   Medical illustration

15.   Orthotic and prosthetic technician

16.   Orthotist and prosthetist

17.   Perfusion

18.   Personal fitness training

19.   Polysomnographic technology

20.   Recreational therapy

21.   Specialist blood bank technology/transfusion

22.   Surgical assisting

23.   Surgical technology

This is a very diverse list, which creates both advantages and challenges, observed McPherson. First, the diversity of the fields accredited by CAAHEP is reflected in the diversity of the commission itself, which includes educators, professionals from societies and organizations, representatives of the Department of Defense, members of the general public, and recent graduates of allied health programs. The 15 members of the board of directors, who establish policies for the commission, are drawn from the more than 250 commissioners.

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