All Credentials Are Not Created Equal With various courses, certificate programs and credentials available, it’s often difficult to know exactly what your professional development dollars are buying. Here’s how to be sure. On the Pulse
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On the Pulse  |   May 01, 2014
All Credentials Are Not Created Equal
Author Notes
  • Janet Brown, MA, CCC-SLP, is ASHA director of health care services in speech-language pathology. ■jbrown@asha.org
    Janet Brown, MA, CCC-SLP, is ASHA director of health care services in speech-language pathology. ■jbrown@asha.org×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / On the Pulse
On the Pulse   |   May 01, 2014
All Credentials Are Not Created Equal
The ASHA Leader, May 2014, Vol. 19, 32-33. doi:10.1044/leader.OTP.19052014.32
The ASHA Leader, May 2014, Vol. 19, 32-33. doi:10.1044/leader.OTP.19052014.32
Let’s say you’re a newly certified speech-language pathologist who works in an inpatient rehab hospital. Your department has a career ladder to recognize clinicians who develop specialty areas so they can mentor other clinicians and provide in-service training. You want to find post-graduate training that will advance your place on the career ladder. In searching professional development options, though, you find a variety of courses, certificate programs and certifications—and don’t know which to choose.
How do you build a résumé that demonstrates your continued learning and expanding professional competence? You can document the in-service training you’ve received, list the conferences you’ve attended, and perhaps add other credentials you’ve earned in your specialty area. But be cautious: A particular credential type does not necessarily mean the same thing to other professionals and the public, and all credentials are not the same.
Here are some definitions that can help as you weigh your options to develop and demonstrate professional competence.
Certification maintenance and ASHA CEUs
At a minimum, you must earn 30 hours every three years to maintain ASHA certification. Not all hours have to be ASHA CEUs; you can include documentation of time spent in other activities such as in-services offered at your hospital or continuing education activities from organizations that are not ASHA Continuing Education providers. ASHA’s frequently asked questions about certification maintenance provide tips.
ASHA CEUs can be earned only for offerings from ASHA Approved Continuing Education Providers. ASHA does not approve courses or endorse content—only providers. So the designation of “ASHA Approved CE Provider” means the organization has met the Continuing Education Board’s standards for how the course is planned, delivered and evaluated, and ensured the course content is relevant to the professions. You may decide to build your expertise in a chosen specialty area by selecting courses that meet your learning objectives. ASHA’s Course Search is one way to find them.
Certificates, certificate programs and professional certification
A certificate of attendance may mean only that you attended an educational event for a specific length of time.
A certificate program awards participants a certificate for participating in a training program for a specific area of knowledge and passing an assessment. The certificate—awarded by an education program, institution, agency or organization—may or may not be accredited or recognized by a third-party organization that sets standards for such programs. A certificate from a certificate program generally does not entitle you to list credentials after your name, and typically it is not renewable.
Professional certification verifies that a person has earned a credential based on standardized criteria established by a third-party organization. ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence is an example of professional certification. The Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology sets standards based on validation studies conducted at specified intervals. Professional certification is renewable—rather than time-limited—based on completion of requirements (such as certification maintenance hours).
Visit on.asha.org/certification-certificate for more information.
Specialty certification
ASHA’s new Clinical Specialty Certification program is another example of professional certification for a specialty area of practice. Clinical specialty certification is available in child language and language disorders, fluency and fluency disorders, swallowing and swallowing disorders, and intraoperative monitoring. These standards are also set by the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology and implemented by each specialty board.
Because various certificates and credentials may represent different levels of standardization and recognition, you should consider these questions before making a decision about how to spend your professional development funds:
  • Does the program meet my educational needs?

  • Is the certificate or certification based on standards set by a third party or is it self-designated?

  • Who recognizes or accredits the certificate program or certification, and what are the criteria?

  • Is there a learning assessment or simply an attendance requirement?

  • Does the certificate or credential recognize a single training event or is it renewable by continuing education?

  • What organizations recognize the certificate or credential, and how much is it valued?

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FROM THIS ISSUE
May 2014
Volume 19, Issue 5