Standards help you see how boards stack up

Here’s the national ‘gold standard’

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the accrediting arm of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) in Washington, DC, accredits certification programs that meet a high standard of quality.

To earn the voluntary accreditation, certification organizations and their programs must meet all NCAA’s standards, provide documented evidence of compliance with the standards, and have completed at least two national examination administrations. NCAA’s standards set strict guidelines for the following areas of operation:

• purpose of organization;

• structure of organization;

• resources of organization;

• candidate testing mechanisms;

• public information about the program;

• responsibilities to applicants for certification and recertification;

• responsibilities to the public and to employers of certified practitioners;

• recertification programs;

• criteria for organization to maintain accreditation.

The area that has caused many case managers frustration about several certification programs in the case management industry is the area of public disclosure of the pass rate, denial rate, and other pertinent facts about the certification program. But are these certification programs really remiss in their public reporting? NCAA’s standard for public disclosure include:

• Organizations shall publish and make available a document which clearly defines the certification responsibilities of the organization and outlines other activities of the organization which are not directly related to certification or recertification.

• Organization shall publish and make available general descriptive materials on the procedures used in examination construction and validation, all eligibility requirements and determination procedures, and the procedures of examination administration including exam dates and locations, fees, reporting of results, recertification requirements, disciplinary, and grievance procedures.

• Organizations shall publish and make available a comprehensive summary or outline of the information, knowledge, or functions covered by the examination.

• Organizations shall publish and make available at least annually a summary of certification activities for each program including, at least, number of examination administrations, number examined, number passed, number failed, number certified, and number recertified.

At press time, there were 32 accredited certification organizations nationwide. Of the certification programs reviewed in this issue of Case Management Advisor, only the Healthcare Quality Certification Board in San Gabriel, CA, which grants the CPHQ credential is currently accredited. However, the National Board for Certification in Continuity of Care (NBCCC) in Fairfax, VA, recently changed by-laws to meet NCAA’s standards and plans to apply for accreditation soon. "The NCCA guidelines are very good. The only thing that has prevented us from applying for accreditation has been the structure of our board of directors, which we recently changed to comply with NCAA standards," notes Ann Carey RN, PhD, A-CCC, president of NBCCC.

NCAA offers a variety of publications on current trends in professional and occupational certification and licensing, as well as the complete NOCA guidelines. The guidelines are available for $30. For a complete listing of NOCA publications, contact: NOCA, 1200 19th St., NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036-2422. Telephone: (202) 857-1165. Fax: (202) 223-4579.