PO Box 409095
Chicago, IL 60640
Length: 7 minutes, 19 seconds
Interviewer: Melanie Evans, reporter, Modern Healthcare
Interviewee: William Schoenhard, executive vice president and chief operating officer, SSM Health Care, St. Louis
[00:00:09.06] Woman's Voice: Welcome to this edition of Special Report Extra, brought to you by Modern Healthcare and powered by Martopia. With each edition of Special Report Extra, listeners hear directly from key healthcare executive involved in the major events shaping the industry.
[00:00:27.08] Melanie Evans: This is Melanie Evans of Modern Healthcare. I'm speaking with William Schoenhard, executive vice president and chief operating officer of SSM Healthcare in St. Louis. Mr. Schoenhard is also the immediate past chairman of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Today we are discussing the college's January 1st overhaul of its credentials for healthcare executives. Mr. Schoenhard, why don't you start by explaining how the ACHE credentials changed on January 1st.
[00:00:54.27] William Schoenhard: The board of governors of ACHE undertook change in the credentialing system to strengthen our college's mission to advance healthcare management excellence. Given the increasing variability and educational and experiential backgrounds of the individuals entering healthcare management, a commitment to credentialing and continuing education is more critical than ever for our professions. So, we strengthen our credential for board certification, effective January 1. And we have new requirements as of that time, which include now that an ACHE member must meet the new academic criteria of a post-baccalaureate degree following the phase-in period that will end December 31, 2008. The individual must have 40 hours of continuing education credits, that's an increase over the prior requirement. The individual must pass the board of governors' examination in healthcare management, which is a rigorous exam. And now must have three years' tenure as an ACHE member, and five years' experience in healthcare management; previously, two years experience to become a [unclear] and then another three years as a [unclear].
A candidate must also submit references from fellows, including a structured interview, and participate in community healthcare affairs as before. So to recognize this increasing variability in persons who are coming to healthcare leadership, various clinical roles and other educational backgrounds, the college strengthened its credentialing and I think it's been a very good change for our profession. And it's been very well-received.
[00:02:42.18] Melanie Evans: Most of the number of incoming ACHE fellows, could that influx of new fellows at all effect the value of the credentials?
[00:02:50.11] William Schoenhard: No, I think the important element of the value of the credential is actually the effort that was made to further strengthen the rigor of the credential itself. Board certification is viewed as gold standard for having achieved confidence in healthcare leadership in the United States. And the ability to now require a post-baccalaureate degree to further strengthen continuing education credits required, and to have had actually more healthcare experience than previously required, has actually strengthened the credential.
[00:03:26.14] Melanie Evans: How does the fellow credential compare with becoming board certified by a medical society? How is it alike, and how is it different?
[00:03:33.19] William Schoenhard: It varies somewhat with the various medical societies. They all have somewhat different requirements. But actually, the change makes ACHE more consistent with most of that, because in nearly all of the medical societies, if you're board certified, you become a fellow of that medical society. Certainly, FACHE in our profession has been the gold standard, so making this change became more consistent with the way other medical societies have terminology for board certification.
[00:04:07.11] Melanie Evans: You mentioned that the switch was well received; how do you answer members of ACHE who argue that such a change diluted the value of becoming a fellow?
[00:04:17.14] William Schoenhard: The number of people who have expressed that have been relatively small, and I think that the best response has been the true measure of confidence and ability to advance healthcare management excellence in the United States is the rigorous examination that's required by the board of governors to become board certified. I think that those of us who have been fellows for some time would almost to a person agree that the real rigor in our career was preparing for and passing that examination. And that that has always been the measure by which one would become board certified.
Again, the requirements of the post-baccalaureate degree, further continuing education requirements, required over the earlier criteria, and the longer experience, is really persuaded most people to feel that we've strengthened the credentials and that, again, fellow is really the measure by which we're able to identify that a person is board-certified and that that actually helps to encourage, particularly people who come from variable educational and experiential programs and experiences to be able to prepare for a broader career in healthcare leadership than may have been true in their clinical background, because you certainly need to demonstrate broad healthcare knowledge and experience in order to pass this examination.
[00:05:50.28] Melanie Evans: Can you tell us what the exam covers and what percentage of test takers pass?
[00:05:55.05] William Schoenhard: I can't tell you what number actually pass the exam, but it is tested by a valid and reliable service. The questions are refreshed every year; the exam itself is completely overhauled on a regular interval. I can assure you that even people with experience, I think, are well-advised to study for the exam before taking it. The college courses which are helping candidates prepare for taking the exam are fully enrolled, and it's certainly viewed as one of the most reliable and valid tests.
[00:06:34.15] Melanie Evans: This is Melanie Evans, reporter with Modern Healthcare. We've been speaking with William Schoenhard, executive vice president and chief operating officer of SSM Healthcare in St. Louis. Mr. Schoenhard is also the immediate past chairman of the American College of Healthcare Executives. We were discussing the college's January 1st overhaul of its credentials for healthcare executives. Thank you for your time.
[00:06:56.26] William Schoenhard: Thank you.
[00:06:57.07] Woman's Voice: Thank you for listening to this edition of Special Report Extra, brought to you by Modern Healthcare and powered by Martopia. Listen to other editions of Special Report Extra by visiting the multimedia section of Modern Healthcare Online at ModernHealthcare.com.