ICE Exchange Preview: Is a New Certification Program Right for Your Organization?

Starting or adding a new certification program is an important decision — but rushing into such a decision can be a big (yet common) mistake. How can organizations know when to say yes, and where to draw the line? 

We spoke with Cynthia Allen, president of SeaCrest company, and Lori Tinkler, CEO of the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), who will present on this topic at the ICE Exchange. Learn why this topic is important in the field right now, their experience with determining feasibility of programs and what attendees can expect to learn during the session.   

What is your experience with helping organizations determine a need for new certifications? 

Cynthia Allen: Our organization has assisted certifying organizations of different sizes representing a variety of industries and job roles, through a strategic process to determine not only if there is a need for a new certification program but, what type of product is the right fit. 

Is there a need for an entry-level certification, or is it a specialty? Are there training opportunities available, or should an assessment-based certificate program be considered? We have seen organizations rush to develop a new program, sometimes in response to a small, but vocal group of stakeholders, without considering important questions that impact the short and long-term success of the program. 

Lori Tinkler: Over the NBRC’s 60-year history, several specialty areas have emerged in the field. Respiratory care is a highly specialized allied health profession, and over the years there has been enough evidence and interest to support the development of certain specialty credentialing programs. We do not create specialty programs on our own, but rather our policy requires that one of our sponsoring organizations request us to evaluate the feasibility and desirability of creating a specialty credentialing program.  

Our first programs were inherited from another organization when we folded pulmonary function technology into the respiratory care umbrella in the mid-1980s. In 1991, we developed our first specialty credentialing program from the ground up (employing a five-step process that we still use today). In 2008, we created another specialty program, and most recently in 2012 we implemented our third specialty program. We recently began the process of evaluating another specialty, starting with a viability study this past September.  

Why is this topic important for those in the credentialing community? 

CA: I recently completed a feasibility study for an advanced credential that helped the organization better understand if there was a difference between advanced and entry-level practice, and what type of product the stakeholders would most value. Our discussion around the project included an internal focus on the resources needed to develop and maintain a new certification. Stakeholders are often unaware of the resources, both human and financial, needed to start and maintain a quality program. All of these elements have to be carefully balanced by the certifying organization. 

LT: It’s important to critically look at your particular profession to determine if a new certification is warranted and can sustain itself. There is a desire for organizations to grow, and they often think adding new programs results in growth — which isn’t always the case. We employ a five-step process, which I will describe in the presentation. It provides for a very deliberate, thoughtful and intentional decision or outcome. 

What are three takeaways attendees will get from your session?

CA and LT: Attendees will take away the following from our session:

  • Walk through six questions to help guide the decision-making process
  • Learn from the NBRC’s process to assess the need for a new certification program.
  • Leave with information to apply in their own organizations.

The certification industry has changed, with more innovation and disruption coming. It is essential that organizations carefully consider credentialing products before diving into development to save time and resources, but also to improve the chance of success.  

Register for the ICE Exchange

The ICE Exchange is designed for all levels of credentialing professionals in the public and private sectors and offers an opportunity to learn about some of the most pressing topics in the industry, with plenty of opportunities to network with peers.

Join us this year in San Diego, California, from Nov. 18-21. Registration is open here.

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