A Journey to ACHA Accreditation

By Ryan Turner, AIA, ACHA, EDAC
Healthcare Design, Principal

The American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA) provides Board Certification for architects who practice as healthcare specialists. The journey to ACHA certification proved to be one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I’ve had in my career. The entire process was extremely rigorous from submitting an application, assembling a portfolio, soliciting letters of recommendation from colleagues and clients, to finally, sitting for and passing the exam.

Practical Experience
The tagline for the ACHA is “Experienced, Certified, Preferred.” ACHA certification is really about practical knowledge—and not just memorization for an exam. Unlike many other certifications, the ACHA exam is based on experience and much of the content cannot be studied. Architects who earn the ACHA credential have had their healthcare experience and knowledge independently evaluated and approved through the application, portfolio and testing process. It’s a stamp of approval that differentiates architects with specialized health care skills for their clients, employers and colleagues.

Relevance for Rural Health Care
Even though some small hospitals or systems may lack some specialized services, departments, or amenities, our broad knowledge base helps DSGW and our clients to plan for flexibility — to anticipate new technology and future services and needs, as well as industry trends. It’s a kind of “tethered knowledge” that links urban systems with smaller rural facilities in — knowledge that strengthens the entire health care system.

About the ACHA
ACHA was founded in the year 2000 by fifty health care designers who felt that health care architecture involved such complex systems, technology, and codes that it required its own certification—one beyond traditional architectural registration exams. The goal is to transform healthcare through better built environments.

In 2008, the American Institute of Architects honored ACHA as the first and only organization whose accreditation it recognizes. There are currently just over 400 architects in the US that are ACHA certified out of 110,000+ architects in the country and I am the 13th architect in Minnesota to gain certification (out of 3,664 architects in the State).

Now that I’ve achieved ACHA Certification, my study will continue. Upon certification, the ACHA has extremely rigorous continuing education requirements for professionals to keep us up to date on innovations, trends, and best practices around the world.