Competency, Part 3: Why Certification is Important for MDRPs

Dec. 27, 2023

Q: November’s Part I article asked: “We just had a staff meeting and our manager told us that ‘Results from a recent survey of the department stated we need to have more competency for the staff and the work they do.’ Do you know how many competencies a department should have?”

A: 

For the last couple of months, I stated competencies go hand-in-hand with certification, which I refer to as "my C²" (certification/competency). I will explain "Why?" later from my point of view.
In December’s article I mentioned, “Our work is ever changing…”, because we are in a profession that is ever changing. Certification helps ensure medical device reprocessing professionals (MDRPs) stay up on their profession and usually requires continuing education units (CEU) to maintain certification.

As a profession, I feel at times we forget we are part of the medical profession. We need to understand the role certification plays, how important it is to be verified, and how it is part of a system for reimbursement for the facility we work at. We also must understand the role of licenses. Like certifications, licenses require some form of continuing education along with a set of competencies to practice. However, licenses are legally required by the government to work in a specific occupation, while certifications in most cases are not.1,2

People who work in a medical facility undergo different levels of education and training (e.g., medical or professional school, internship, residency, and fellowship programs). Here is the “kicker”! Health plans are only required to verify the highest level the medical professional has stated they obtained for credentialing. For a doctor, this would usually be the residency training program, while for a nurse practitioner it may be the accredited master’s level program. So, what is it for our profession? According to the United States Federal Government, nothing is required to practice in our field. (Again), remember, medical plans and reimbursement organizations must verify education and training for health plan credentialing, they do not have a choice.3,4

This is where I feel certification should be required; whether you have been in the department for one day or 20 years. For me, basic certification sends a message:

  • General understanding (basic terms/technology) of what you need to work in the department.
  • Projects a level of professional ability.
  • Formalizes your knowledge (nothing more).
  • Helps ensure you continue to learn as you remain certified.

I am not saying somebody who is not certified does not know the basics. In fact, I know many staff who are not certified and know medical device reprocessing better than people who are certified. Thus, when I see on their badge the certification letters, I know the person should possess a certain level of knowledge. Understand that professional certification in our field is a mark of excellence showing commitment to and lifelong learning in the profession of medical device reprocessing.
Certification is a hot topic! Recently, many articles have been released that I feel need to be read by all MDRPs, who deal with education, training, job advancement, and certification.5,6

Here are some suggested articles on this topic from over the years.7,8,9,10

This upcoming June 2024, we will be celebrating 20 years of the State of New Jersey (NJ) being the first state requiring certification. At that time, I thought all the states would follow in their footsteps; however, it has not happened.

I want to thank all the people who helped bring about certification for NJ. A special thank you to three key people: Tony Monaco, Nancy Chobin, and the late Ann Cofiell.

I believe certification is the first step when doing a competency for any staff member. Is the staff member certified? Why does it matter? It is simple: certification requires you to attend continuing education and maintain your foundational knowledge for our medical device reprocessing profession. If we believe that we are an important part of the delivery of health care, then why (after 20 years of a master blueprint from NJ) do we have such few states requiring certification? I just released a podcast interviewing some of the important people involved in the NJ certification, here is the link to take listen to this podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IQay8sBgX4&t=12s.

 

References 
  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Torpey, Eika. (2016, September). Will I need a license or certification for my job? BLS. https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2016/article/will-i-need-a-license-or-certification.htm
  2. IC&RC (2023). Licensure vs. Certificate. International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium. https://internationalcredentialing.org/lic-cert
  3. HAP. (1995, April; 2023, October- Reviewed). Credentialing Policy. Health Alliance Plan. https://www.hap.org/-/media/project/hap/hap/files/hap/providers/2023-files/become-a-provider/credentialing-policy.pdf?rev=bfea64ee8cb94d6e9e4eb0f915aa0585&hash=D69818A1DC0E30E7598F3D23973C5BF5
  4. National Committee for Quality Assurance (2023). Credentials Verification Organization Certification. ncqa.org. https://www.ncqa.org/programs/health-plans/credentials-verification-organization-cvo/
  5. Bellaire, L. L., Kenfield, M., Janek, K., Weston, B., Poulin, J., Brown, L., Mosiman, S., Nichol, P. (2023). Do formal education or certification opportunities in sterile processing enhance career advancement? Perioperative Care and Operating Room management, Volume 32, 2023, 100330, ISSN 2405-6030, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcorm.2023.100330
  6. Ofstead, C. L., Smart, A. G., Hopkins, K. M., Lamb, L. A., Daniels, F. E., Berg, D. S. (2023). Improving mastery and retention of knowledge and complex skills among sterile processing professionals: A pilot study on borescope training and competency testing. American Journal of Infection Control, Ed(51), 624−632. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2023.03.002
  7. Don Gordon, D., & Kovach, S. M. (2004, April). Raising the Bar: Why Central Service Certification Makes a Difference. CDN-Healthcare Purchasing News (HPN). https://cdn.hpnonline.com/inside/2004-04/CS%20certification.htm
  8. Chobin, N. (2016, November 7). Understand the Difference between Certification and Competency. AAMI Array. https://array.aami.org/content/blog-post/nancy-chobin-understand-difference-between-certification-and-competency
  9. Czarnowski, C. (June 2002). Five reasons certification is crucial for Sterile Processing Technicians. Healthcare Purchasing News (HPN). https://www.hpnonline.com/home/article/13000726/five-reasons-certification-is-crucial-for-sterile-processing-technicians
  10. Okada, A. (2021, March 2). Sterile Processing Certification: Why it Matters. Sterile Education. https://sterileeducation.com/sterile-processing-certification-why-it-matters/

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