As the trek to third-party accreditation of the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification continues, we've been having numerous conversations about implementing the best practice of separating certification from the membership requirement. Not requiring membership as a part of a certification is a best practice for many reasons. Building a firewall between the development of the exam process and membership increases the credibility and impartiality of the exam. This is accomplished by having the testing process developed by subject matter experts with someone representing the public under the guidance of a professional testing company. Clearly differentiating that the membership function of the organization is to serve you, the member/profession, while the focus of the credentialing arm of the organization is to serve the consumer/participant provides a road map to ensure decisions align with the appropriate purpose and direction.
As we look at the reality of this separation, conversations have focused on asking the question, "If membership is no longer required to certify, does PATH Intl. provide enough of the right benefits to encourage individuals to join or continue their membership?" The membership body as a whole has collectively represented and led the industry for decades. That unity continues to be critical and influential. How will we ensure the membership stays together and strong so that we continue the good work for the entire field and profession?
A key PATH Intl. strength that is consistently quoted as most important to the membership and the public is the standards. The standards are developed, tested and voted on exclusively by PATH Intl. Members. This is a benefit of membership and, as influencers in the industry, brings some responsibility. Voting for the credentialing council, the group now responsible for the development and oversight of credentialing, is another important example that illustrates the impact members have on the current and future direction of the association and the EAAT profession. Guiding the overall direction of the organization, and by extension the field, through feedback, volunteer committee work, voting for the board of trustees and having avenues for your voice to be heard are benefits and are critical for the direction of the field. These are all examples of the power of your membership, the continued influence on the entire EAAT field and the direction of PATH Intl.
Of course there are also the more direct, tangible benefits. These include deep discounts on education, receiving
PATH Intl. Strides magazine and digital communications with the latest news, and access to tools such as those created as part of the special educators outreach campaign.
As we look to the future, we endeavor to develop even more tangible benefits of membership, such as reduced-price test preparation materials. We are currently in the discovery phase, gathering data from membership about what types of benefits might best serve individual and center members. We will be having this conversation at every regional conference this year, as well as asking your region leadership outreach team to gather feedback in their volunteer roles. And if, as you read this update, a suggestion comes to mind, please
send me an email
, so we can add it to the list.
Regional conferences and state meetings are just beginning for 2018. I look forward to those events I am able to attend. Spending time with members and hearing about your challenges and triumphs is one of my favorite things to do.