Document Type: Editorial


Clinical Education Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran


As you know, there is increasing attention insocial accountability concept for medicaland other health professional schools. Despite theuniqueness of the concept of social accountability,it has different definitions in various fields. TheWorld Health Organization (WHO) has describedsocial accountability generally as follows: “theobligation to direct education, research andservice activities toward addressing the priorityhealth concerns of community, region, ornation”(1). Applied to health professional schools,the idea of social accountability recognizes it’sprospective for transforming community byacting throughout the educational, researchand healthcare delivery, on a mixture of socialdeterminants of health factors and for helpingto make a proficient and equitable health system.One of the health professional schools inShiraz University of Medical Sciences is theSchool of Rehabilitation Therapy. This school iscommitted to lead and stimulate positive changesthat improve quality of lives through rehabilitationeducation, research and practice. As part of thiscommitment, the mission of this school is to teachoccupational therapists, physiotherapists andphysiotherapy scientists who contribute to wellbeingand welfare of the community. This schoolis recognized for excellent social accountability.In a qualitative study, we developed theindicators for assessing the concept of socialaccountability in this school based on the extensiveliterature review and expert opinions. Finally,57 indicators were determined for assessing thesocial accountability and used for assessment ofsocial accountability in this school (2).The results showed that considering thehealthcare needs of the community for educationand research, provision of interdisciplinaryeducation for students, addition of the idea ofsocial accountability in the accreditation system,teaching professionalism to students before theclinical courses, and cooperation with otherstakeholders (including academic health centers,physician communities, and other relevantparamedical schools) were reported as some of thestrengths of this school. Some of the weaknessesof this school were lack of continuous evaluationprograms for precise analysis of the currentneeds of the society and lack of correspondencebetween some of the elective training programswith the accountability approach. What’s more,the willingness of the community to participatein the health programs, lifestyle changes andchange in the public approval for services ineducational fields are some of the existing trendsin this school.It seems necessary that social accountabilityconcept of rehabilitation therapy schools shouldbe further taken into consideration as a meansof improving the outcomes of rehabilitationeducation, research and services.In conclusion, all health professional schools should contribute to the needs of society byeducating their students well in this field. Throughaccomplishment of these aims, these schools canplay the maximum effective role in the health ofthe community.