Purpose, process, and people go together like peas in a pod when it comes to bringing a certification to life—and keeping it ever green.
While purpose, process, and people go together like peas in a pod when it comes to bringing a certification to life—and keeping it ever green—it’s the dynamic interchange between current practices in medicine and the credentialed people who deliver care that creates the true value of a certification.
What’s the PURPOSE of professional certification?
The point of professional certification depends on your perspective.
From the point of view of an allied health professional, a credential is more than the set of letters that you use after your name, eg, Neesha Matthews, RMA(AMT). A professional certification shows the world that you have achieved the level of competency that qualifies you to work in your chosen profession. It’s a big deal. Many occupations have adopted certification as a hallmark of quality practice—particularly critical in the delivery of health care services.
Fundamentally, the purpose of credentialing includes efforts toward public protection. Your effort to deliver safe and successful health care is helped by meeting the requirements of a sound certification program.
If you are a hiring manager looking for a job candidate with a respected professional credential, certification is an objective, third-party stamp of approval that an individual has the necessary skills and knowledge and is committed to working in the profession. But why would a health care employer look for and trust a certification?
It’s no surprise that an industry that values research, objectivity, and professionalism—like health care—would expect that the people who deliver care possess a respected credential. Just as health care is very specialized, so are certifications from AMT, which were developed in response to a specific need in the work force.
How are certifications developed? What’s the PROCESS?
The member leaders of AMT have been coming together for 80 years to answer the question of how to prepare the allied health professionals of today to succeed in their chosen work. Certifications are developed to meet that need. But how does that happen? It’s a big job and not taken lightly. To ensure the highest quality, the volunteer leaders of AMT work with professional AMT staff and industry professionals to create world-class credentials.
THE EVOLUTION OF A CERTIFICATION
Subject-matter experts (SMEs) who actively practice in their field define 1) who the certification is for 2) which criteria makes them eligible to challenge the exam, and 3) the scope of practice defining the competency areas required for a successful job role.
AMT staff psychometricians and the SMEs conduct a task analysis—this is research about what is actually done on the job—and it’s an on-going part of maintaining the credential as job roles continue to evolve with changes to health care technology and common practices.
If you’d like to see the areas of knowledge and skills for a variety of roles in allied health, check out the exam content outlines.
Only after extensive preliminary research work comes the development of the actual certification exam. A few versions of each separate certification exam are created to randomize the test in order to help keep exam content secure and ensure that every test-taker has a fair experience.
All of this work of creating a credential from scratch—from determining the need to writing test questions is a science that requires its own credential! For that reason, the process that AMT uses for creating a certification exam is itself accredited by a respected outside agency, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
The PEOPLE who bring certifications to life
All the research and learning behind an AMT credential are based on the experiences of allied health professionals working with real patients. Only people can bring the certifications to life: Starting with the subject-matter experts who develop task lists based on their knowledge and experience in the field. Next, through the AMT staff psychometricians who crunch the numbers and oversee all the test development. And most importantly, through the hands-on care providers—the allied health professionals—who deliver the life sustaining care to patients.
Not enough can be said about the member-certificants of AMT who have decided to give back to their professions by returning to serve as subject matter experts on certification program development committees. Each certification program is supported by teams of experts who are either actively working or instructing in their fields. The most critical pieces of any credentialing program are provided by those who are directly knowledgeable of what is required for safe and successful practice in a job role. These professionals come together to dedicate their time and expertise to ensure that future certificants continue to possess the competencies necessary for the sound delivery of healthcare services to patients.These dedicated individuals form the nuclei of all AMT certification programs.
--James Fidler, PhD AMT Director of Testing and Competency Assurance