Licensure, Certification and Accreditation
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Certification and credentials are an important aspect of the health care. Most health care organizations both governmental and non governmental adhere to policies of accreditation and certification for health professionals. Accreditation and credentials are usually a function of government policy which sets a certain standard even though private healthcare organizations may also set their own certification and credentials requirements which may be of a higher standard. There are five reasons which are of primary importance with regard to the enforcement of the policy of certification and credentials policy. These reasons are to ensure that professionals have gone through the necessary training; they possess the necessary proficiency to perform their tasks in the required manner; to keep the faith of the public in health professionals since the masses generally tend to believe in accredited rather than arbitrary standards; to offer potential employers a standard for the recruitment of health care professionals since they would know the qualifications and competencies of potential employees; and lastly to ensure standards are kept high by ensuring only the best are retained to practice; the policy may thus also be used to keep at an optimum the number of professionals in the industry.
Credentials and certifications have both positive and negative consequences for the health care system and practitioners. Some of the negative consequences include issues such as keeping numbers of practitioners artificially low and leading to rote learning in order to get credentials and certification. Some of the positive consequences include the setting of standards for practice and ensuring that health care professionals get the best quality service from proficient professionals. The role of credentials and certifications therefore has more positive aspects to it than negative and hence the role of certifications and credentials ought to be enhanced in order to enhance the provision of health care. There are two important suggestions which I will make towards the enhancement of the role of certifications and accreditation. In order to enhance the provision of uniformity and quality of health care, I would suggest that there is established nationwide bodies that are tasked with the setting of certification and accreditation standards. Another suggestion I would make towards the enhancement of the role of accreditation and certification in health care is the coming up with policy that would require continual assessment and refresher courses in order to enhance the process of accreditation. This will assist in reducing lethargy and stagnation that result after attainment of accreditation and certification.
Licensing entails that a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse has undertaken certain assessments which certify that she has the required knowledge to practice health care without endangering the health of patients. The test for licensing in health care is intended only to ensure those not having attained the standards for minimal safety are eliminated and hence the test is not graded. Certification just like licensure is intended at testing the individual for competence even though unlike licensure which measures minimum competence, certification measures the level of proficiency in a special competence. Unlike licensure certification although offered by many health care training organizations is voluntary and it is up to the professional to decide whether to be certified or not. Some jobs may however require practitioners to have certain certifications even though the process is voluntary. Accreditation unlike certification and licensure makes an assessment of institutions as opposed to private persons. Most accreditation programs are usually intended to qualify the achievement of a health care institution as opposed to guaranteeing safety. Accreditation similar to certification is a voluntary process even though the process may also be influenced by factors such as government policy. A good example is that while accreditation is voluntary, a health institution is required to have been accredited in order to collect Medicaid even though it is licensed.