Today AACC is launching a first-of-its-kind certification program for point-of-care testing (POCT) professionals, healthcare experts who perform diagnostic testing outside of the central laboratory. Applicants who meet eligibility criteria and pass an online, proctored exam will receive the designation, Certified Point-of-Care Testing Professional (CPP).
Successfully passing certification will require competency in all areas of POCT, including regulation and compliance, quality management, education and training, instrument selection, validation and verification, connectivity and information technology, leadership and communication, sample types, policies and procedures, clinical applications, and technology and methodology.
“The intention of this certification is to elevate the quality of the POCT field and signal to the healthcare industry that a board-certified POCT testing professional represents a highly qualified individual capable of providing oversight of a POCT program,” said T. Scott Isbell, PhD, DABCC, FADLM, medical director of clinical chemistry and point of care testing and associate professor of pathology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Scott chaired AACC’s POCT professional certification task force.
Peggy Mann, MT(ASC), also a member of the task force, noted that the certification will confer benefits both to the POCT professional and to the field itself. “I see the certification as a credential that says this point-of-care testing professional has gone the extra mile to prove competency,” she said. “This should help with professional advancement in the field, but also helps to elevate the field itself. Not only is there value in being recognized by your peers, but this will also help the testing professional become more valuable to their organization.” Mann is ambulatory POCC program manager for the University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston).
Point-of-care testing is a quickly growing field in laboratory medicine. Market experts predict the worldwide POCT and rapid diagnostics market will top $38 billion by 2022 (MarketandMarkets). More than half of that market is in the United States.
Individuals who may apply for the certification are those responsible for ensuring quality of a POCT testing program. This could include laboratory managers, nursing managers, point-of-care coordinators, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, pharmacy practitioners, and physician assistants.
AACC wants to encourage all who work in point-of-care testing to consider board certification, Isbell said. “This isn’t just for people who work in hospitals,” he explained. “It could be a pharmacist who then puts the POCT professional certification on the wall of their pharmacy. This helps reassure patients that the person doing their testing is competent.”
To be eligible for Point of Care Testing Professional Certification, applicants must have 4-year degree in a biological or physical science at least 2 years’ documented POCT experience. Applicants must provide transcripts from their college or university, along with two letters of recommendation from people who can attest to the applicant’s professional qualifications.
To determine your eligibility and apply for certification, visit www.aacc. org/cpp. AACC members will pay a nonrefundable application fee of $50 and an exam sitting fee of $199 ($249 total). Non-members will pay an application fee of $75 and a sitting fee of $274 ($349 total).
The POCT certification exam is an online exam consisting of about 175 questions developed by experts in the field who represent clinical diagnostics, academia, in vitro diagnostics manufacturers, and consultants.
The questions are designed to test knowledge on a wide range of competencies, from testing methods to quality control to regulations and compliance. The first online exam will be given in November 2-9, 2018. Applicants can take the exam in the convenience of their own home or at work. In either case, the exam will be proctored (applicants taking the test at home or work will be monitored through a camera attached to their computer). Applicants who do not successfully pass the exam will be able to retake the exam once during an exam period.
The exam will be offered twice per year beginning in 2019. The Point-of-Care Testing Professional Certification is different from AACC’s Point-of-Care Specialist Certificate Program, which focuses on education but does not offer professional certification. The certificate program consists of eight courses through which professionals earn continuing education credits.
Mann notes that the certificate program might be a good resource for professionals interested in becoming board-certified. “It’s an educational tool that could be helpful in preparation for taking the certification exam,” she explained.
Ultimately, the AACC Board of Certification may be recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other accrediting bodies, Isbell said. “We would like for it to be recognized in the same way that the American Board of Clinical Chemistry is recognized by CMS and allows one to serve as a medical director,” he said. “Perhaps this could be a route where someone could become a director of point-of- care testing.”
The deadline for applying for the November exam is September 30, 2018. For more information, visit www.aacc.org/cpp.