AACC's first-of-its-kind certified point-of-care testing professional credential will show holders have competence across a broad range of domains

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On August 1, AACC announced the launch of a new certification—the first of its kind in the United States—geared toward healthcare providers who perform diagnostic tests outside central laboratories. The new Certified Point-of-Care Testing Professional (CPP) certification reflects the growing importance of point-of-care testing (POCT) as a discipline in laboratory medicine and clinical diagnostics and the specialized knowledge necessary to ensure proper use and interpretation of POCT.

Any healthcare professional working in POCT who achieves this certification will have demonstrated their expertise in POCT, placing them among the top in the field.

“We are excited to launch this new certification for point-of-care testing experts,” said AACC CEO Janet B. Kreizman in a statement. “We learned from our members that there was a real need for this certification. As point-of-care testing becomes more and more widespread, it is essential to ensure that those performing these tests are qualified experts. Healthcare professionals certified as CPPs will stand out as demonstrated authorities in point-of-care testing.”

Candidates have the convenient option of taking the online certification exam in their own home or at work. Test takers will use a secure method that includes verifying their identity (through keystroke analysis and facial recognition) and monitoring them during testing via a web camera attached to their computer. Instructions will be provided in advance to those candidates preparing for the online exam. All exams will be proctored.

Any healthcare expert who passes the certification will have the CPP. This will mean that the individual has demonstrated knowledge in U.S. POCT regulations and compliance, quality management, education and training, instrument selection and validation/verification, connectivity and information technology, leadership and communication, sample types, policies and procedures, clinical applications, and technology and methodology.

“Board certification is a clear statement to your employer, your colleagues, and your patients that you have what it takes to ensure quality point-of-care testing. It represents a level of achievement not previously recognized in laboratory medicine,” said T. Scott Isbell, PhD, DABCC, FADLM, chair of the POC task force that developed this certification and associate professor of pathology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis. “My hope is that anyone looking to distinguish themselves as a point-of-care testing professional will consider this certification.” Practitioners in hospitals, physician offices, pharmacies, and long-term care facilities, should all consider gaining PCC certification, he added.

Isbell and his colleagues on the POC professional certification task force—a group of POCT experts—worked side-by-side with PSI, a company that specializes in professional exam certification development, to create the exam content. “Using PSI’s process we identified all the different topics or areas in POCT that we thought a certified POC professional should be competent in and began the task of writing questions to assess competency in these areas,” said Isbell.

AACC’s Board of Certification, a newly formed entity under AACC, will be tasked with overseeing the professional certification.

Close to 40 volunteers worked with the developers on this huge undertaking. According to Isbell, the volunteers spent many hours writing multiple choice questions for the exam and reviewing questions written by others. “I cannot thank our volunteers enough for their hard work and dedication to this project and to the field of POC!” he said. “I’d also like to thank the tremendous support we received from the AACC staff. We certainly would not be this far along without their logistical expertise.”

Certification program fees are $249 for AACC members and $349 for non-AACC members. Upon review of all required documentation, candidates will be notified by October 8 via email whether they are eligible for the first examination.Those eligible for examination will receive a notification with instructions for scheduling an appointment to take the examination. Only one exam period will take place in 2018. If an applicant fails the exam, she or he will be able to reapply in May 2019 or December 2019. The exam periods for 2020 are still under determination.