By Sara Meier, Senior Vice President, Professional Development and Credentialing, MCI USA
When we talk about certification, we talk about competence and continuing competence. In order to be certified in a particular professional area, the concept is that you are able to demonstrate your competence by being evaluated on a set of criteria or standards through an exam or a portfolio, or in some instances, both! And let me reassure you, most certifications are quite rigorous.
Certifications exist for reasons, which I will elaborate on in a minute, but the main purpose is to prove that an individual has the necessary competencies to perform a particular job.
The Human Resources division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines competencies as the following: “Competencies are the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviours that contribute to individual and organizational performance. Knowledge is information developed or learned through experience, study or investigation. Skill is the result of repeatedly applying knowledge or ability. Ability is an innate potential to perform mental and physical actions or tasks. Behaviour is the observable reaction of an individual to a certain situation. The target proficiency level for each competency will vary based on an individual’s position and the organization’s needs.”
I like this as it lays out not only what competencies are but then goes on to explain how knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviours contribute to the demonstration of the competencies. If you are setting up a new certification program or ensuring the credibility of an existing one, your operational and evaluation processes should cover these key aspects.
What knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviours should the individual have to be considered eligible for the certification? How will you assess whether the individual has the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviours to perform the job? Will they need to demonstrate the competencies in a hands-on manner, on a written exam, through a series of employer evaluations? How will you develop and maintain a process that engages the key stakeholders in the evaluation practices? What will you ask and how often will you ask those certified to share their efforts around continued competence?
And finally, how will your certifying body manage the process of revoking an individual’s certification status if they fail to maintain the required competencies ortheir ethics are called into question?
As everyday citizens, we put our trust in many professionals to execute their role in a competent and ethical fashion, from genetic counsellors to wound care health professionals, from lab technicians to meeting professionalsand more. Those of us in the credentialing space hold the process in high regard.
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