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Can You Pass Argentum’s Executive Director Certification Exam?

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By Pam McDonald

One of the major quality care initiatives launched last year by Argentum is its national Assisted Living Executive Director Certification program. The voluntary process consists primarily of interested professionals meeting eligibility requirements, taking, and then passing a standardized job-specific examination.

To develop the test and oversee the certification process, Argentum formed the Senior Living Certification Commission (SLCC), a nonprofit organization governed by industry leaders and dedicated to the professional development of senior living executives and staff. Paul J. Williams, long-time staff with Argentum and its state affiliates, is spearheading the project as SLCC’s executive director.

The Association believes certification will create a national standard of excellence, improve overall performance that will better serve assisted living residents and their families, and take existing state licensing requirements to the next level.

Benefits of Professional Certification for AL Executive Directors

The commission trusts that its certification examination will provide a way to measure judgment, application of knowledge, and problem-solving abilities, as well as demonstrate attainment of consistent, relevant, measurable, and industry-recognized standards of practice in the assisted living executive director role.

Program advocates have confidence that certification of individual professionals will:

  • prepare assisted living executive directors for greater responsibility

  • help AL employees achieve personal and professional goals

  • lay the groundwork for a career path in senior living

  • open the door to career advancement

  • promote a sense of achievement and belonging to a distinct profession

  • demonstrate that senior living residents are under the care and supervision of a knowledgeable specialist with a proven skill set to meet their needs

  • exhibit a senior living company’s commitment to quality standards, which can elevate its brand above the competition

  • display the industry’s proactive self-regulation

The Assisted Living Certification Test Itself

SLCC utilized standards for best practice in the certification field and identified competencies needed to effectively manage senior communities through an extensive job task analysis to develop the test. It selected 135 multiple choice questions for the exam.

While individuals can study however they see fit, Argentum, its state affiliates and other educators are expected to offer courses and materials. However, these will not be test-specific, like SAT prep or Bar Review courses. Instead they will focus on standards of practice for assisted living executive directors in 8 domains:

  1. Principles and philosophy of assisted living

  2. Resident care and services

  3. Customer experience or service

  4. Leadership

  5. Operations management and human resources

  6. Regulatory compliance (generally, not state-specific)

  7. Financial management, and

  8. Sales and marketing

Eligibility Requirements for Initial AL Executive Director Certification

SLCC has determined that applicants for certification must:

  1. Possess a bachelor’s degree granted by a college or university that is accredited by an entity approved by the United States Department of Education, or the equivalent,

  2. Have at least three years (6,000 hours) work experience as an executive director of a licensed assisted living community OR five years (10,000 hours) work experience in a management capacity in one or more licensed assisted living communities, and

  3. Pass the certification examination for assisted living community executive directors.

OR

  1. Have at least five years (10,000 hours) work experience as an executive director of a licensed assisted living community OR seven years (14,000 hours) work experience in a management capacity in one or more licensed assisted living communities, and

  2. Pass the certification examination for assisted living community executive directors.

Applications may be submitted starting on July 18, 2016 and testing will begin September 1. The certification fee for Argentum members is $400 and $500 for non-members. Recertification will be necessary every 3 years. The test will be a proctored exam offered at test centers in all 50 states.

Those interested in receiving information about the exam can sign up at http://www.alfa.org/alfa/Certification.asp. Questions and concerns can be addressed to Paul Williams at pwilliams@argentum.org or by calling (703) 562-1183.

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