Licensure, certification and accreditation

These are three professional development opportunities for health care workers that wish to improve their knowledge and skills in health care industry. These three terms,Licensure, Accreditation,and Certification although similar are quite distinctive in their areas.

Accreditation is the process of an agency recognizing that a separate organization has met certain standards and criteria.

Licensure is the process in which a government associated agency gives individuals express permission to practice an occupation, which acts as an endorsement that an individual has met minimum competency. To become licensed,a professional has to meet certain eligibility requirements and pass at least one assessment,much like earning a certification,although there are stipulations about ongoing learning,renewal and revocation. Licensing is often carried out by a government agency, with the non governmental organizations supporting their good works.

Certifications are credentials that individuals seek to prove their proficiency in certain specialities or procedures. This requires that an individual volunteer themselves to be evaluated by a third party,non governmental organization,thus there are eligibility requirements for volunteers to either join or to be evaluated and hence must pass some form of assessment to be considered "certified" by the agency.

Overview

A certification is a third-party attestation of an individual's level of knowledge or proficiency in a certain industry or profession. They are granted by authorities in the field, such as professional societies and universities, or by private certificate-granting agencies. Most certifications are time-limited; some expire after a period of time (e.g., the lifetime of a product that required certification for use), while others can be renewed indefinitely as long as certain requirements are met. Renewal usually requires ongoing education to remain up-to-date on advancements in the field, evidenced by earning the specified number of continuing education credits (CECs), or continuing education units (CEUs), from approved professional development courses.

Many certification programs are affiliated with professional associations, trade organizations, or private vendors interested in raising industry standards. Certificate programs are often created or endorsed by professional associations, but are typically completely independent from membership organizations. Certifications are very common in fields such as aviation, construction, technology, environment, and other industrial sectors, as well as healthcare, business, real estate, and finance.

Certification is different from professional licensure. In the United States, licenses are typically issued by state agencies, whereas certifications are usually awarded by professional societies or educational institutes. Obtaining a certificate is voluntary in some fields, but in others, certification from a government-accredited agency may be legally required to perform certain jobs or tasks. In other countries, licenses are typically granted by professional societies or universities and require a certificate after about three to five years and so on thereafter. The assessment process for certification may be more comprehensive than that of licensure, though sometimes the assessment process is very similar or even the same, despite differing in terms of legal status.

Categorization

There are three general types of certification. Listed in order of development level and portability, they are: corporate (internal), product-specific, and profession-wide.

Corporate, or "internal" certifications, are made by a corporation or low-stakes organization for internal purposes. For example, a corporation might require a one-day training course for all sales personnel, after which they receive a certificate. While this certificate has limited portability – to other corporations, for example – it is the most simple to develop.

Product-specific certifications are more involved, and are intended to be referenced to a product across all applications. This approach is very prevalent in the information technology (IT) industry, where personnel are certified on a version of software or hardware. This type of certification is portable across locations (for example, different corporations that use that software), but not across other products. Another example could be the certifications issued for shipping personnel, which are under international standards even for the recognition of the certification body, under the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The most general type of certification is profession-wide. Certification in the medical profession is often offered by particular specialties. In order to apply professional standards, increase the level of practice, and protect the public, a professional organization might establish a certification. This is intended to be portable to all places a certified professional might work. Of course, this generalization increases the cost of such a program; the process to establish a legally defensible assessment of an entire profession is very extensive. An example of this is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), which would not be certified for just one corporation or one piece of accountancy software but for general work in the profession.

The Impact of ISO 9000.

Implementation of the ISO 9000 quality assurance standards results in an improvement in business performance through their impact on specific company operations. Studies evaluated by ISO show benefits increasing with higher commitment to improving quality. When you implement the relevant standards in your company, they guide you to improve procedures with a positive impact on customers and products.

Quality

ISO 9000 standards define quality in terms of customer requirements and define procedures that allow you to achieve the desired quality. The standards have an immediate impact on staff and operations, as employees require formal and verifiable qualifications for technical tasks, companies have to qualify to supply material, incoming materials have to be inspected, and testing procedures have to be established to ensure that the products meet the specified quality standards.

Competition

Implementing ISO 9000 standards allows you to compete more effectively because your products have a higher quality and your procedures are more efficient and consistent. If you become certified for ISO 9000, you have an even bigger competitive advantage because you can bid on contracts that specify ISO 9000 certification, while your competitors lacking certification can't bid. Overall, ISO 9000 improves your competitive position in the marketplace.

Customer Satisfaction

While the quality assurance aspects of ISO 9000 lead to better quality products and higher customer satisfaction, the attention to standards helps improve other company operations. With regard to customer service, ISO 9000 requires clear goals, verifiable training and documented procedures. Higher product quality means fewer customer service calls, but customers who contact you experience improved service levels, further increasing customer satisfaction.

Employees

Employees face challenges in requiring additional training and learning new procedures to establish responsibility for carrying out work and for verifying it under ISO 9000, but lines of authority and responsibility are clear and consistent. Overall, when employees carry out their work with confidence based on adequate training, follow clear standards with explicit objectives, and take part in the production of high-quality products, employee morale improves.

Controls

The ISO quality standards achieve their results through the implementation of internal controls that ensure activities lead to the desired results. Such controls are based on documentation of actions, verification that work was carried out according to the established procedures, and monitoring of outcomes for discrepancies. Their impact on your company is to increase efficiency and consistency throughout the organization. When you implement standards to ensure that product quality is high, the effects spread to functions not directly involved, such as finance and human resources, because they have to interact with the operating departments and satisfy their requirements.

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