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Why Become a SOAP Center of Excellence?

The SOAP Center of Excellence (COE) designation was created to recognize institutions and programs that demonstrate excellence in obstetric anesthesia care and to set a benchmark of expected care to improve standards nationally and internationally. It is an annual program, with new designees announced each spring. Designees are recognized by SOAP and peer organizations for their high standards of care, and receive a plaque to display in a patient-facing area. Read on to learn more about the COE program, processes, benefits and fees. 

2023 Intent to Apply Form
Informational Webinar on the Centers of Excellence Cycle
Center of Excellence Designees



The Center of Excellence criteria were generated by expert consensus and incorporate evidence-based recommendations. They cover all aspects of obstetric anesthesia care and include: personnel and staffing; equipment, protocols, and policies; simulation and team training; obstetric emergency management; cesarean delivery and labor analgesia care; recommendations and guidelines implementation; and quality assurance and patient follow-up systems. Criteria are reviewed annually by the COE Subcommittee and updated as appropriate.

Application Process

Application is a two-step process:
1) Intent to Apply Form, which includes payment of the $500 intent to apply fee. If you are a repeat applicant with a fee waiver, no payment is required but you must still submit the intent to apply form. Applications will be accepted only from those who complete the Intent to Apply Form
2) Application
The application will be reviewed for 2023 cohort and will be shared with all of indicated an intent to apply in mid-2023. You may begin submitting applications in July 2023. 

  • The application requires detailed responses with the inclusion of the obstetric anesthesia lead’s CV and relevant policies and procedures as appropriate.
  • Applicants must provide evidence that they offer all essential criteria and the majority of the important criteria, as described in the application. No on-site visit is required. 
  • To better understand the details required, review the sample COE application form (note: this sample is the 2022 form; the 2023 form is not yet finalized).
  • Preferred process: review the sample form, collect information, craft your responses in Word, and then cut and paste your answers directly in the online Application Form. If you need to go back and edit the form, you must use the same device and web browser. If necessary to support your institution's application, you may also upload supplemental materials.
  • If your institution has previously been designated a Center of Excellence, recertification is required every four years. SOAP will provide a copy of the original application for reference, upon request. Previous designees do not need to complete the "Intent to Apply" form or pay the $500 fee but must complete the Application Form.


  • Intent to Apply for the next cycle opens in November
  • Applications opens in July and closes in October
  • Applicants are notified of their status in March/April
  • Designee certification/recertification fees are due by May
  • Designees are honored at the SOAP Annual Meeting in May
  • Recertification is every four years

Vetting Process

Each application is reviewed and graded by the COE Subcommittee. The subcommittee will consider criteria within the context of the care setting (as defined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s obstetric care consensus on levels of maternal care; Obstet Gynecol. 2015;125:502–15). 

Applications may be accepted, provisionally accepted/reconsidered, or rejected by a majority vote of the subcommittee. If an application is provisionally accepted/reconsidered, the applicant will be allowed one month to provide clarifications and revisions. Some rejected applications may be offered application fee waivers if the institution reapplies the following year. This application fee waiver is given to institutions that the COE Subcommittee feels are close to being COE designations and provided a strong application. Awards are on a conditional approval basis; inaccurate reporting is grounds for revocation of the COE designation.

Recognition and Benefits

  • Designees will be highlighted in a SOAP news release and receive a plaque and certificate recognizing the achievement of Center of Excellence status.
  • Additional recognition will be provided during the SOAP Annual Meeting and on the SOAP website.
  • Recipients will be entitled to use the COE logo and the tagline "Center of Excellence" in media, communication and correspondence during the period the certification is valid.
  • In addition, select individuals from COE designated centers may be invited to serve on the subcommittee.


  • The application fee, which covers costs related to reviewing and certifying applications, is $500 USD and is paid by submission of the Intent to Apply Form.
  • If your institution is selected to be a COE, the certification fee of $3,000 USD applies (initial certification).
  • After four years, a recertification fee of $1,000 USD will apply.
  • Institutions who are recertifying do not complete the Intent to Apply Form or pay the $500 fee. 
  • Fees are not refundable.

Helpful Resources

  • Overview: Centers of Excellence for Anesthesia Care of Obstetric Patients, an editorial published in Anesthesia & Analgesia, authored by Brendan Carvalho, M.B., B.Ch., FRCA and Jill M. Mhyre, M.D.
  • Consultation: By request, consultation will be offered to help institutions navigate and attain COE designation. Support may be provided by phone or in-person as available.
  • Sample applications: A blank sample application form is available here.  This application is to be used as a reference only and criteria may change.  

Stanford University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and The Johns Hopkins Hospital provided their Center of Excellence applications and handouts to help provide examples and expectations of what is expected to obtain designation as a COE. Please recognize that some criteria may have changed but these are examples of how to describe and document your current processes and procedures. This resource is accessible only to SOAP members in the Member Center.