After earning the required educational credentials, getting certification is the next most important step in beginning a successful career in healthcare management. Certification enables you to stand out from your peers and demonstrates that you are a leader in your field. Through healthcare certifications, you’ll earn the respect of your coworkers and the trust of your supervisors; you’ll often find yourself serving as a mentor or subject-matter expert in your area of certification. Since many healthcare management positions demand a broad range of knowledge, you’ll likely want to earn more than one certification. It’s important to carefully consider your options so you can choose the most valuable certifications for your healthcare management career.
1. Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE)
Offered by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the certification ensures that you are equipped with the knowledge and skills that will help you map out a successful career. Its main focus is healthcare administration as opposed to management of information and is most suitable for healthcare management professionals whose career aspirations go beyond IT to finance and operations.
To become a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE), you’ll need to meet several requirements. First, you’ll need a graduate degree, and you’ll be required to submit a diploma or transcript to prove your credentials. Second, you’ll need at least five years of experience as a healthcare executive; experience as a program manager or analyst does not count towards this requirement. You will also need to be referred by a current Fellow, demonstrate a commitment to volunteer service and complete at least 36 hours of continuing education after you submit your application.
Once you’ve met the fellowship’s requirements, you’ll need to pass the Board of Governors Exam in Healthcare Management. This six-hour test covers 230 multiple-choice questions covering a variety of categories: general healthcare knowledge, management and leadership skills, finance, human resources, quality and performance management, business, professional and ethics. You can take the test multiple times, but you must pay a $225 registration fee for each attempt.
After meeting all requirements, including a passing score on the test, you’ll be recognized at a special Convocation Ceremony the next annual meeting of the ACHE. Your name will be officially published by the ACHE, and you’ll be able to claim the prestige of certification as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
2. Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)
Its issuing authority is Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), a non-profit organization that has a membership of more than 64,000 individuals, 450 non-profit establishments and 640 corporates. Additionally, HIMSS works with thousands of volunteers dedicated to making a difference in the healthcare sector through information technology.
Its main focus is information and management systems in the healthcare sector. Recognized as an international certification, it is a measure of commitment towards the improvement of the healthcare industry through technology. In addition, it builds your credibility with the employing authority as well as proof of commitment to development of your career.
To earn this certificate, you must first meet one of three qualifications. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree in any field, you must demonstrate at least ten years of information management experience. With a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need at least five years, and with a master’s degree, at least three years’ experience. No matter your level of education, the majority of your experience must have been earned in a healthcare setting.
Once your application has been approved, you’ll be able to take the two-hour CPHIMS exam. The HIMSS organization offers online and in-person review courses to help you prepare, but you aren’t required to attend these classes. Once you pass the exam and become certified, you’ll need to renew every three years, either by retaking the exam or completing at least forty-five continuing education credits.
3. Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM)
Overseen by the American Hospital Association (AHA), the certification prides itself as one of the most elite in the healthcare management industry. It aims at creating an outstanding membership of healthcare professionals. In that regard, it requires rigorous assessment of the professionals’ abilities.
A certificate in healthcare risk management is important for two reasons. First, risk managers work to promote patient safety, limit injuries in healthcare settings and protect public health. Whether they’re creating a new training to minimize accidental needle sticks for nurses or educating patients on how to safely dispose of medications, these professionals are vital to the healthcare field. Second, because there are no degrees in healthcare risk management, these workers have a diverse educational and work background. The certification process measures a standardized set of knowledge and reassures employers that all certified risk managers possess a uniform set of skills.
No specific educational level is required to take the CPHRM examination, but test-takers are encouraged to evaluate their own level of knowledge and experience before taking the test. The AHA offers many different avenues for inexperienced risk management professionals to study for the test, including online and in-person courses, an official textbook and an online practice test. The official test includes 110 questions covering clinical/patient safety, legal and financial risks in healthcare management and healthcare operations. After passing the test, the CPHRM is only valid for three years, after which professionals must retake the exam or show proof of 45 hours of continuing education credits.
4. Certified Medical Manager (CMM)
The Professional Association of Healthcare Office Management (PAHCOM) introduced the certification program in an effort to recognize the need for knowledge and skills as well as experience in office management in healthcare settings. A skilled office manager can increase a practice’s revenue, improve the overall patient experience and oversee important administrative matters such as restocking critical medicines and ensuring all healthcare providers maintain necessary credentials. One of the most recognized ways to demonstrate excellence in medical management is to obtain the Certified Medical Manager (CCM) credential.
To take the exam, you must prove that you’ve worked as a practice manager for at least two years. You must also show proof that you’ve earned twelve credit hours at the undergraduate level in either healthcare or business management subjects. As an alternative, you can substitute one year of professional experience for one credit hour, so you’ll need at least fourteen years of work experience if you haven’t completed any relevant college coursework. To prepare for the exam, you can use PAHCOM’s official study materials or attend in-person trainings.
Once you’ve earned the CCM label, you’ll be included in the list of successful examinees in the PAHCOM’s annual report published at the beginning of every year. You’ll also have an advantage when seeking a new job or promotion because you’ll have proof that your competence has passed through a rigorous test and was found to be highly satisfactory. With your certification, you’ll be qualified to oversee multi-site practices, request a higher salary and advance your clinical management career.
5. American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) Certifications for Revenue Cycle Specialists and Managers
The certification program has been around for more than four decades. Its main focus is healthcare financial services and the cycle of revenue generation. The AAHAM offers five different certification options, starting with the Certified Compliance Technician (CCT).
The CCT testing process is designed for any healthcare staff involved with revenue cycling. Preparing for the test helps staff understand current legal guidelines towards revenue cycling. This certification is accepted by the Centers for Medicare Studies (CMS), The Joint Commission (TJC) and Det Norkse Veritas (DNV) and covers healthcare compliance regulations and penalties. Anyone can take the certification exam. To renew this certification, applicants must either retake the entire exam or complete thirty-six hours of continuing education.
The Certified Revenue Integrity Professional (CRIP) is the second level of certification offered by the AAHAM. To even attempt the CRIP exam, applicants must be a member of the AAHAM and have either two years’ experience in a healthcare setting or an associate’s degree in any field. The four-hour exam covers revenue cycles for outpatient, inpatient and surgical settings and requires an in-depth understanding of revenue-increasing techniques and insurance payer compliance regulations. Recertification requires ongoing AAHAM membership and the completion of thirty hours of continuing education.
The third certification option is the Certified Revenue Cycle Specialist (CRCS), designed for entry-level workers in healthcare financial management. This certification has no pre-requisites for taking the exam, but the AAHAM encourages applicants to review official preparation materials. The exam measures knowledge of patient access, billing and healthcare collections.
For managers or healthcare executives, the AAHAM offers additional certification through the Certified Revenue Cycle Professional (CRCP) and Certified Revenue Cycle Executive (CRCE) options. Both certifications have education and work experience requirements. The CRCP takes four hours to complete, and the CRCE takes an entire eight-hour day. At both levels, the certificate demonstrates an in-depth understanding of regulatory issues surrounding healthcare revenue processes as well as leadership skills.
The AAHAM has created a learning-based certification process. While each certification requires the completion of an examination, most of these certificates can be renewed via continuing education. Additionally, the AAHAM provides high-quality study material at each level of examination; many certified healthcare revenue professionals retain the AAHAM study guides and use them as helpful references. Given the high level of regulation surrounding healthcare revenue and the potential legal and financial consequences for institutions that fail to meet the regulatory standards, it’s no surprise that employers prefer to hire employees with a demonstrated understanding of these complex issues.
Certificate or Degree?
If you plan to pursue a healthcare management certificate while working full-time, you’ll be demonstrating a serious commitment to your career. You may also be wondering if earning a certificate is better for your career than earning a degree. If you have a specific job or promotion in mind, you can usually earn a certificate in less time than a formal degree and with fewer costs.
If you already have a master’s in healthcare management or related degree, an additional master’s degree will likely not improve your career prospects as much as a certificate. That’s because your MHA, MPH or MBA already demonstrates your expertise in the field. Unless you plan to study a different field, like social work or information technology, doubling down on your degree won’t offer you much of an advantage in the job market.
However, if you have a bachelor’s degree in public health, healthcare administration or something similar, a master’s degree could improve your job outlook. You’ll want to carefully research the available jobs in your area to determine the best way to advance. For example, if you want to work as an office manager at a local clinic, the Certified Medical Manager would likely be more useful to you than a master’s degree in public health. On the other hand, many high-level positions in hospital management or government agencies place a high value on obtaining your master’s degree.
You could also look for universities that offer healthcare management certificates. Many graduate programs require a certain number of elective credits, which allow you to customize your learning experience. You can use this flexibility to take courses that will lead to your certification. With careful planning, you can graduate with both a degree and a certificate in the healthcare management field.
Healthcare management is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates this field will grow 17 percent by 2024. This high level of growth will create a high demand for project managers, executive leaders and trainers. To take advantage of these professional opportunities, you’ll need to differentiate yourself from your peers; one of the clearest ways to demonstrate your commitment is by earning a third-party certification in your healthcare management field. As a Certified Medical Manager or Certified Revenue Cycle Executive, you’ll command attention from hiring managers and your peers. However, the certification process can be lengthy; you may need to retake an exam several times before passing, and many of the certification listed above require years of experience or education. To ensure you receive the maximum value from your certification in the healthcare management field, start by creating a roadmap to your desired position and determine which certification will offer the most help along your journey.
- What is a Probationary Accreditation for a Master of Public Health Program?
- What is Accreditation and Who are the Primary Accreditations Sources for Healthcare Management Degree Programs?
- What is CEPH Accreditation?
- What is the Accreditation I Should Look for in a School of Public Health?
- What Types of Accreditation Do Senior Living Facilities Pursue?
- How Do Healthcare Facilities Prevent Medication Errors?
- What Safety Measures Do Healthcare Take to Combat Gun Violence?
- 5 Ways Healthcare Facilities Are Being Affected by the Opioid Crisis
- How Do Healthcare Facilities Maintain Compliance with JCAHO?
- Top 15 Online Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AG-CNS) Degrees
- Top 25 Graduate Healthcare Management Degrees