Health Credentialing Organization Takes a Global Perspective on Accreditation
By ICE Editor
From ICE Headquarters
The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), a recognized credentialing organization for health-related professions, earned International Accreditation Service (IAS) accreditation to internationally recognized quality standard ISO/IEC 17024 “Conformity assessment —General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons.” Combined with its longstanding accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the accrediting body for the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), NCHEC believes IAS accreditation sets it apart from the competition in the U.S. and abroad.
Linda Lysoby, MS, MCHES, CAE, executive director of NCHEC, explains: “NCHEC has an ongoing commitment to accreditation standards regarding certification. Since many health specialists work abroad, we believe it’s an advantage to have an accreditation that is recognized in the international
market. As well, we’re starting to see a proliferation of certification programs and realized that many of those programs don’t follow the same rigor that we do in the NCCA and ISO/IEC 17024 standards.”
The IAS accreditation service for personnel certification bodies that are also seeking, or are currently accredited, by NCCA is a jointly developed and administered service of IAS and ICE. Through this partnership, personnel certification programs in a specific subject area, such as those offered by NCHEC, are evaluated against defined criteria to confirm the competency and compliance of its certification program to the additional requirements of ISO/IEC 17024.
Per ISO/IEC 17024, an accredited organization must demonstrate that it certifies the scope, job and task description, required competence, skills, prerequisites and code of conduct, as applicable.
Specific requirements for IAS-accreditation are defined by Accreditation Criteria (AC474), which includes criteria for initial certification, surveillance and recertification, assessment methods for initial and recertification, criteria for suspending and withdrawing certification, and criteria for changing the scope or level of certification.
“There are several elements of the IAS accreditation that we think are critical in terms of evaluating certifications,” Lysoby says.
Inside the Process
To begin an AC474 evaluation, a personnel certification body submits documentation describing its examinations for assessing personnel competence, its management system and certification policies, as well as a description of its development and validation methods. “We especially like that IAS requires a link between the exam and job analysis,” Lysoby says. “The IAS program also has emphasis on total quality improvement and continuous quality improvement, and there’s more requirement for documentation. That was helpful to our organization because it forced us to think more carefully about our processes.”
IAS- and ICE-trained assessors review the submitted data to determine preliminary compliance to the accreditation criteria. Once documented material is deemed to meet ISO/IEC 17024 requirements, IAS schedules an on-site assessment to verify compliance with the accreditation criteria and confirm an organization’s competence to deliver relevant and meaningful certification.
“The on-site audit is an important aspect of the IAS accreditation,” Lysoby says. Once the on-site audit is complete, the assessors provide the applicant with a detailed report. Upon confirmation of compliance with the accreditation criteria, a joint IAS-ICE Certificate of Accreditation is awarded, which includes a defined scope of personnel certification services.
“Not all certification programs have the elements necessary to demonstrate competence — namely documentation, linking the exam to a job/practice analysis and enforcement of a method of recertification,” Lysoby says.
“Some organizations have a one- or two-day workshop followed by a test and you’re certified. Accreditation recognizes the quality and integrity in certification programs and services. We believe the increased rigor and focus on demonstration of competence that NCCA and IAS require sets a high benchmark that ensures our policies and procedures are in alignment with national and international standards.”
NCHEC was the first organization to be accredited under this jointly sponsored accreditation service in July 2015 as part of a pilot program between IAS and ICE.
Dixie Dennis, Ph.D., MCHES, 2016 chair of NCHEC Board of Commissioners, recently stated: “The IAS accreditation provides additional quality assurance to the public and other stakeholders that NCHEC’s policies and procedures comply with high international standards of practice for certifying agencies. This recognition demonstrates NCHEC’s ongoing commitment to meeting the highest credentialing standards of practice for the health education/ promotion profession.”
Lysoby agrees and adds, “Accreditation is an essential component for individuals and employers to explore when seeking certification for oneself or employees. Not all certifications are created equal; accreditation recognizes the quality and integrity in certification programs and services. We are very proud of our latest accreditation in addition to the NCCA accreditation already achieved. Having IAS accreditation to ISO/IEC 17024 plus NCCA accreditation distinguishes our certification organization to health education/promotion specialists, their employers and other stakeholders.”
Organizations with NCCA accredited programs, or those that wish to apply for dual accreditation at the same time are eligible to take advantage of this jointly sponsored service. The online application is designed to automatically transfer details from the NCCA application that fully or partially satisfy the requirements of ISO/IEC 17024.
For more information about this jointly sponsored accreditation, visit the ICE website or IAS online.
Editor’s note: The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) was also part of this pilot program and earned IAS accreditation in October 2015.
IAS-ICE Partnership for Organizations
Assessing Professional Competence
Through a partnership, the International Accreditation Service (IAS) and the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) are offering dual accreditation to NCCA criteria and ISO/IEC 17024 requirements for organizations that assess professional competence. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is the accreditation arm of ICE. The NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs, which were originally created in the mid-1970s, were the first standards developed by the credentialing industry for professional certification programs. The NCCA Standards were most recently updated in 2014 and more than 300 certification programs are currently NCCA accredited.
ISO/IEC 17024 sets the requirements and the framework at a global level for the operation of personnel certification bodies. IAS is a signatory to the Multilateral Recognition Arrangement of the Pacifc Accreditation Cooperation, which allows for transportability of credentials issued under the joint accreditation program.
Organizations will realize a cost savings and streamlining of the accreditation process with dual accreditation from IAS and ICE. Efficiencies can be realized through the online system, the large overlap in the requirements for both standards, and the synchronization of
deadlines and term dates.