Q:  How important is it to earn certifications from healthcare industry associations such as ACHE, HFMA and HIMSS?

A: (from J. Larry Tyler, Chairman and CEO) here are compelling reasons to differentiate yourself with certifications. They can validate greater knowledge, facilitate networking and make you more marketable.

Professional society certifications (e.g., FACHE by the American College of Healthcare Executives) validates your study of a certain curriculum, passing of tests, and/or meeting a set of standards. Those familiar with the association’s guidelines will recognize the rigor the certification represents. In some cases, lack of credentials can hinder your movement upward. As an example, in about one-third of the CEO searches we conduct, the search committee makes the FACHE certification a preferred or even required element of the search criteria. An otherwise good candidate will be handicapped by the lack of an FACHE. Likewise, in about one-third of the CFO searches we conduct, clients require that candidates either have a CPA or allow theHealthcare Financial Management Association fellowship (FHFMA) to serve as a substitute.  

You also can leverage industry credentials by networking among peer groups. Healthcare associations often host gatherings (real and virtual) for those who have earned certifications. These events present opportunities to meet peers who can help you tackle challenges in current positions or a future job search. 

Certifications can increase your marketability because they are differentiators. Candidates who take the time to earn certifications fulfill continuing education requirements, expand their horizons and advance their careers — positive indicators to current and potential employers, and many executive search firms. 

Tyler & Company is one of 46 executive search firms that has affirmed ACHE’s statement, “... board certification [FACHE] in healthcare management gives you an edge with executive search firms.” 

Clinicians are required to earn their certification before they practice, then maintain it throughout their professional careers. Earning certification in their own specialty can put administrators on a level playing field.   

I’m often asked why I earned so many credentials. So far I have three fellowships, one each from ACHE, AAHC (American Association of Healthcare Consultants), and HFMA. While I’m certified (CMPE) through American College of Medical Practice Executives, I must finish a paper for what will be my fourth fellowship. 

Entering search in 1978, I could have pursued one of two paths. One was to do general search, focusing on financial positions; the other, healthcare search specializing in C-suite positions. The healthcare work really resonated with me, so I homed in on the industry. Since I wasn’t a classically trained healthcare executive or ever worked in a hospital, I needed to learn as much as I could about healthcare. 

I decided to test my knowledge by taking professional exams. I thought, “Well, I passed the CPA exam, how hard could this be?” And as they say, the rest is history. I believe I’ve turned into a continuous learner. After I earn  my MGMA – ACMPE Fellowship, I’ll have to find a new goal .... Perhaps to become a Certified Master Gardener? At any rate, I recently recertified with ACHE and HFMA. (Depending on the association, 24 to 50 hours of continuing ed was  required to recertify.) Clearly I’m a proponent of professional society certifications, which have served me well throughout my career.

Reach J. Larry Tyler, FACHE, FHFMA, FAAHC, CMPE, Chairman and CEO, at +1 770 396 3939 or ltyler@tylerandco.com.