As competition for jobs becomes fiercer across the board, many have begun to look for ways to differentiate themselves from the pack. Sometimes this means pursuing a graduate degree instead of stopping with a bachelor's, but many jobs within healthcare administration and management already require candidates to possess a higher level of education. When this is the case, some students wielding graduate degrees are finding ways to continue their education by procuring certifications. Employers like to see applicants with certifications because it shows a person's commitment to their field. People don't typically pursue education beyond a graduate degree unless they are serious about bringing knowledge and experience to their position. Certifications also benefit both the employer and candidate by demonstrating expertise. The more certifications one has, the more likely they are to be well-equipped for a position in a variety of careers. The employer benefits from this added know-how and an additional factor by which to weed out less-qualified applicants. For professionals who have already obtained a job in their field, returning to school to earn certifications can provide higher earning potential, a faster promotional track, recognition from superiors and coworkers, a network of other influential professionals, and an expanded set of skills. There are numerous certifications that a person can pursue depending on their individual career goals.
Executive Certification – CRCE
The CRCE exam combines content knowledge of healthcare and business with tests of critical thinking and communication abilities. It's one of the highest level of difficulties expressed on an exam. To put it in comparison, it's like an accountant earning a CPA or a lawyer taking the bar exam. It is offered by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management.
Professional Certification – CRCP
Also offered by the AAHAM, it is the newest addition to their certification exams. It is most recommended for employees functioning at the managerial or supervisory level. It helps equip people to effectively manage aspects of the revenue cycle, and tests on in-depth knowledge of areas such as registration, billing, credit, and collections. Ultimately, the goal is to validate the knowledge and skills that competent midlevel managers should possess.
Specialist Certification – CRCS
Staff members who have duties related to the revenue cycle should continue taking this exam. This might include anyone who works in patient access, billing, account resolution, collections, customer service, or another specialty area. Many employees take this exam before moving on into management positions and then attaining a professional certification. It is meant to serve as a stepping stone, but is not a requirement for the CRCP. It is offered by the AAHAM.
Certified Compliance Technician – CCT
Some revenue cycle staff are required to meet annual compliance training requirements. This exam can help anyone who deals with compliance in his or her job understand its key points thoroughly. Topics include fraud and abuse, the U.S. sentencing guidelines, HIPAA, administrative sanctions, and RACs. It is also offered by the AAHAM.
Certified Self-funding Specialist
Offered by the Healthcare Administrators Association, this certification is focused on the self-funded benefit model. It consists of seven training courses that qualify participants for credits in continuing education. The certification is sponsored both by the HAA and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBA), and is offered online.
Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives
This credential allows participants to become board certified by the American College of Healthcare Executives. There are a number of requirements that must be met to submit an application, including a number of years of experience in healthcare management a minimum number of hours of continuing education, and a master's or other post-baccalaureate degree.
About the Author:
Iris Stone has worked as a freelance writer since 2011. Her writing has included content on medicine, healthcare, and education, although her interests are wide and varied. Prior to breaking into the freelance biz, Iris worked in sales for a health company and prior to that as an assistant in a chiropractic office. She is currently attending George Mason University and is majoring in Community Health. Check out her Google+ profile.