Purpose: This paper aims to explore how surveying benefits accreditation surveyors and the organisations in which they are regularly employed. The purpose is to examine from the perspective of senior executives who pursue this form of secondary professional activity, what they seek from being surveyors and what they believe they gain from the experience.
Design/methodology/approach: The data were collected from recorded interviews with three senior area health executives who also serve as accreditation surveyors for the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards. The interviews comprised a series of open-ended, semi-structured questions. One hour was allocated for each interview. The questions were designed to explore why senior executive health professionals seek secondary professional activity as surveyors and their perceptions of the benefits they gain from surveying.
Findings: The benefits derived from surveying as a secondary professional activity fall into four categories. First, it exposes the surveyor to new methods and innovations. Second, it provides a unique form of ongoing learning. Third, it serves as a resource for acquiring expertise to enhance quality within the institutions in which the participants were regularly employed and, finally, it provides opportunities to contribute to the process of quality improvement and enhance public health beyond the organisations in which the participants were regularly employed.
Practical implications: This research identifies a key aspect of the accreditation process that has not been the focus of previous research. It provides a reference point for understanding the value of surveying to the surveyor and to the institutions in which they are regularly employed.
Originality/value: The paucity of existing literature on the role of the surveyor-both pre and post accreditation-makes this topic timely and significant. This study is important because almost all accreditation programs world wide rely on external surveyors, and yet we know little about them.