How To: Maintain National Laboratory Certification

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Everything you need to know about credentialing continuing education requirements

National clinical laboratory scientist certifications are governed by two organizations with their own systems for identifying quantifying, approving and documenting continuing education efforts to ensure that professionals in the field are current with changing technologies and techniques and maintain the utmost proficiency. Let ADVANCE break them down for you.

ASCP Requirements

In October 2009, the ASCP Board of Registry and the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA) merged into a single credentialing agency, the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC). Individuals formerly certified by NCA are now certified by the ASCP BOC and may need to earn continuing education credits for the ASCP Certification Maintenance Program (CMP).

The ASCP Board of Certification is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for certification programs in which applicants complete the Certification Maintenance Program (CMP) and hold the following credentials:

  • Cytotechnologist, CT(ASCP)CM
  • Diplomate in Laboratory Management, DLM(ASCP)CM
  • Donor Phlebotomy Technician, DPT(ASCP)CM
  • Histotechnician, HT(ASCP)CM
  • Histotechnologist, HTL(ASCP)CM
  • Medical Laboratory Scientist, MLS(ASCP)CM
  • Medical Laboratory Technician, MLT(ASCP)CM
  • Pathologists’ Assistant, PA(ASCP)CM
  • Phlebotomy Technician, PBT(ASCP)CM
  • Specialist in Blood Banking, SBB(ASCP)CM
  • Specialist in Chemistry, SC(ASCP)CM
  • Specialist in Cytotechnology, SCT(ASCP)CM
  • Specialist in Hematology, SH(ASCP)CM
  • Specialist in Microbiology, SM(ASCP)CM
  • Technologist in Blood Banking, BB(ASCP)CM
  • Technologist in Chemistry, C(ASCP)CM
  • Technologist in Cytogenetics, CG(ASCP)CM
  • Technologist in Hematology, H(ASCP)CM
  • Technologist in Microbiology, M(ASCP)CM
  • Technologist in Molecular Biology, MB(ASCP)CM

Laboratorians who earned ASCP medical laboratory technician (MLT) or medical technologist (MT) certification after January 1, 2004, are required to earn CMP points to maintain certification. Those certified before 2004 are encouraged—but not required—to participate in the ASCP CMP.

The first step in the BOC CMP is to complete a self-assessment to determine current responsibilities; to identify areas of professional interest, professional strengths and areas for improvement; and to develop professional goals. This self-assessment can identify the technical areas to focus on for continuing competence activities.

To meet ASCP CMP requirements, medical laboratory technicians and medical technologists need to earn 36 CMP points every three years in the following categories:

  • 1 point in Safety
  • 2 points in Blood banking
  • 2 points in Chemistry
  • 2 points in Hematology
  • 2 points in Microbiology
  • Remaining points in area(s) of lab specialty, immunology, molecular diagnostics, management, education or other related laboratory areas of interest

Acceptable activities to document continued competence include:

  • Formal continuing education courses—CE credits awarded by AACME-accredited programs, ASCP CMLE-approved programs, AACC ACCENT-approved programs, ASCLS PACE-approved programs, CE programs sponsored by other professional societies and courses taken at regionally accredited colleges/universities
  • Employer offered courses (in-service, instrument training, vendor sponsored)
  • Successful completion of an ASCP Specialist or Diplomate certification (Note: The 25 CMLE credits awarded you for your successful completion of a specialist, PA or DLM certification cannot be used towards meeting the requirements for the CMP for this same certification.)
  • Competence assessment from employer (documentation of continued competency in specific laboratory areas)
  • Subscription or online self-instructional courses for which CMLE, ACCENT or PACE credits are awarded
  • Other educational activities—such as research and preparation for presenting a workshop or course, authoring journal articles, presenting posters, etc.

Continuing education credits are equal to one hour per each contact hour. Employer competency assessment and other activities will have assigned hours for each activity.

Upon completion of the required points, a declaration containing a list of activities completed must be submitted to the Board of Certification once every three years. The declaration may be audited, and you may be required to submit documentation upon request. Upon completion of the program, you will receive a dated certificate verifying certification for a three-year period. The initials “CM” in superscript must be indicated after your certification initials (i.e., MLS[ASCP]CM).

If you are certified in more than one category, you may synchronize your certifications so they expire in the same time period. Visit www.ascp.org/cmp.

If you fail to complete the CMP as required, your certification will expire and no longer be valid. The ASCP Board of Certification will respond to requests for verification of certification with the dates in which your certification was valid.

AMT Requirements

Established in 1939, AMT is a PREMIER certification agency. Although some of AMT’s credentials bear the designation “registered,” all individuals credentialed by AMT are considered “certified,” much like registered nurses, registered dieticians and registered respiratory therapists are certified by their respective boards.

Laboratorians initially certified by AMT on or after Jan. 1, 2006, or those reactivating certification after three or more years of inactivity, need to participate in AMT’s Certification Continuation Program (CCP) every three years. Individuals certified prior to Jan. 1, 2006 are not required to participate; however, AMT strongly encourages all members to keep abreast in their field through continuing education and other professional activities.

Depending on the certification, a member will be required to obtain a certain number of points over a three-year period:

  • Phlebotomy Technician (RPT): 24 for CCP Cycles beginning 1/1/2016, 20 for CCP cycles completed before 1/1/2019
  • Medical Technologist (MT): 45
  • Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT): 45
  • Medical Lab Assistant (CMLA): 30
  • Allied Health Instructor (AHI): 30
  • Clinical Laboratory Consultant (CLC): 45

AMT is modifying the CCP requirements to ensure that its certification programs continue to meet and/or exceed these standards and also to meet expectations of employers and state licensing agencies. In 2015, AMT’s Board of Directors approved an ad hoc committee’s recommendation to decrease the maximum number of CCP points that can be awarded for employment from 10 points per year (30 per three-year cycle) to 6 points per year (18 per three-year cycle). These changes are effective for all cerification applicants who began their next CCP cycle on or after Jan. 1, 2016.

While certified members may learn new skills and obtain new knowledge at their place of employment, current industry standards dictate that demonstration of continuing competence be more externally focused. Points can be attained through continuing education, professional education and continuous employment in the field, among other activities:

  • Professional Education: STEP Online, CE Modules, in-service training, seminars, self-instructional (home study) units, national, state, or regional conferences, and other structured learning experiences. Programs eligible for credit would be only those related to a certificant’s certification type.
  • Formal Education: This category is most closely associated with university, college, or junior college academic credit. A passing grade is required to be eligible for credit in a course. One semester hour is equivalent to 5 clock hours/points of credit and one quarter hour is equivalent to three hours/points of credit.
  • Employment Verification: Credit may be awarded to certificants who obtain verification of satisfactory and competent work histories spanning the most recent three-year period.
  • Authorship of Written Works: Written work must be related to the individual’s certification or employment as an allied health practitioner. Ten points are awarded for each written work meeting the criteria. Individuals can author multiple written works.
  • Instructional Presentations: Certificants who prepare and present instructional presentations related to the individual’s certification or employment as an allied health practitioner are eligible to earn credit for those presentations one time. Seven points are awarded for each instructional presentation related to the individual’s certification that is prepared and presented.
  • Organizational Participation: While this category may encompass a range of activities it is primarily intended to address participation as a working board member or as a working committee member of a professional organization. Seven points can be awarded for each year of participation in organizational activities.

CCP qualifying activities new maximum points earned per three-year CCP cycle include:

  • Continuing Education: 45 points
  • Professional Education: 45 points
  • Employment in the Field: 18 points
  • Authorship of Written Works: No maximum
  • Instructional Presentation: No maximum
  • Organizational Participation: 21 points

AMT does not require CE documentation be submitted on an ongoing basis. However, each year AMT will perform a random audit. Those chosen for an audit must produce documentation to support the certification continuation activities attested to. AMT recommends that members keep supporting documentation in a file so that they can be fully prepared to submit to AMT, if requested.

The Learning Scope

To meet the needs of our valued readers, ADVANCE partners with ASCLS to provide a continuing education offering, The Learning Scope. In each installment, ADVANCE provides three articles (one in print and two online) and readers can take a quiz with ASCLS based on the package for PACE credit. The Learning Scope is available here.

Recent topics include:

  • Detecting Bacterial Infections
  • Reimbursement in the Lab
  • Antigen Testing
  • LIS: Survival of the Fittest
  • The Meaningful Use Final Rule
  • Integrated Workflows
  • Predictive Molecular Diagnostics
  • Operational and Financial Efficiency
  • Genomics and Microbiology
  • MDx and Cervical Cancer
  • Transfusion Outcomes
  • Pathology and Informatics
  • Molecular Diagnostics and Pediatric Cancer
  • Pre-Analytical Variables

Some states have their own requirements for maintaining laboratory certification and licensure. For example, Florida and California have their own accrediting bodies. We will explore these requirements in a future article.

Remember to visit http://laboratory-manager.advanceweb.com/ for more certification and professional development tips and for continuing education credits.


Resources

  1. www.ascp.org/content/board-of-certification/credential-maintenance-program-cmp
  2. www.americanmedtech.org/StayCertified.aspx
  3. http://floridasclinicallabs.gov/
  4. www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/lfs/Pages/default.aspx
  5. http://laboratory-manager.advanceweb.com/category/careers/the-learning-scope/
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Kerri Hatt
Kerri Hatt

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