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Is Getting Certified When It is Not Required Worth It?

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By Bill McGinley, CNHA, CAS, CALA, HSE, FACHCA, President / CEO at The American College of Health Care Administrators

Almost every professional organization offers some level of certification program. Everyone is familiar with the certified public accountant (CPA) or the certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA). Less familiar but becoming more recognized are the Certified Nursing Home Administrator (CNHA) and Certified Assisted Living Administrator (CALA).

Professional certification is the formal process that authenticates an administrative leader’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in a specialty area of practice such as nursing home or assisted living administration.

The Big Question

The big question one needs to ask is this: Is it worth the time, effort, and money to jump through the hoops? Another way of asking the same question is this: What is the value proposition?

Here are 5 reasons why it has value:

  1. Some employers require it and some accrediting organizations are adding it to their standards

  1. Professional certification validates specialized knowledge

  2. It indicates professional growth

  3. It enhances professional credibility

  4. It also offers powerful intrinsic rewards of personal satisfaction and accomplishment

Better Opportunities

Certified administrators report an increased access to job-related authority and better professional opportunities in their workplace. Furthermore, the recognition of administrators’ knowledge and expertise is associated with feelings of empowerment. In some LTC settings, professional certification may result in higher salaries and benefits.

To provide the best care possible to older adults, leaders within LTC settings should be able to demonstrate that they are performing at an advanced level of skill and knowledge. Licensure sets an entry-level competence, whereas certification sets advanced standards.

American College of Healthcare Administrators

The American College of Healthcare Administrators (ACHCA) offers a professional certification program that identifies and honors administrators and managers who are performing at an advanced level of skill and knowledge. Certified Nursing Home Administrators may receive licensure reciprocity in participating states.

Certification reflects a commitment to residents, families, and staff. By meeting the eligibility requirements and preparing for the exam, administrators demonstrate their commitment to gaining new knowledge and, ultimately, applying it to their care settings.

Certification promotes quality in the profession and improves the public image of administrators. The designated credential of a Certified Administrator can be critical to consumers when evaluating an assisted living or nursing home facility.

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