For CUMC Student Health Service,  "A" Stands for Accreditation

By Erin James

For the staff members of CUMC Student Health Service, it wasn’t enough to be considered the primary source of health care by more than 80 percent of the student population at the medical center. No, to be truly great, they knew they had to think bigger. So for the staff members of CUMC Student Health Service bigger meant spending nearly three years working toward a goal they hadn’t yet achieved—accreditation.

Known for its mission to enhance the health of each student while promoting a healthy campus community through caring, healing, and educating, CUMC Student Health Service joined more than 5,000 ambulatory health care organizations across the United States last spring when it received its inaugural accreditation from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), a national leader in ambulatory health care accreditation.

"The accreditation process was a constant reminder of our responsibility to model the quality of care that we hope our students will provide one day as health science professionals,” said Melanie Bernitz, MD, MPH, executive director of CUMC Student Health Service. “Accreditation distinguishes our student health program from many other facilities in that it signifies that we have met rigorous and nationally recognized standards that outline quality health care. Not every organization that applies for accreditation can say that.”

Dr. Bernitz notes that CUMC Student Health Service’s continued growth and recent accreditation represent a collaborative effort, one that relied heavily on student input and involvement. Rohan Prabhu, a second-year College of Dental Medicine student, agrees. “Getting involved with CUMC Student Health has been such a rewarding experience and really highlights the symbiotic dialogue between students and faculty,” he said. “Our taking part in the accreditation process has been just one example of how the clinicians and staff members at CUMC Student Health Service use student input to directly improve the quality of their services. It’s these types of relationships with faculty that really convinced me to study at Columbia.”