Quality Management Professional Certification
Hollis Forster, RNC-NP
As a nurse with a certification in healthcare quality management, there are avenues to influence the more global issues facing your organization and ultimately, patient care.
This has become a time of cost saving, cost cutting measures. Who determines what budgets are reduced and where the work force adjustments occur? Of course it is not the floor nurses. However, floor nurses can have an influence on these administrative decisions. Consider a certification in Quality Management in order to obtain the expertise to judge quality care in your department and perhaps the confidence to expand your circle of influence in your organization.
What does a Quality Management nurse do?
• Assure adherence to organizational, community, state or other guidelines. This is a basic function of the job. It is done through medical chart audits, review of the care systems and environmental reviews. It can become clear in these reviews where cost cutting measures (reducing staff, using less expensive supplies or equipment can lead to less than optimal care for patients.
• Coordination with other departments. The trend in quality management currently is to involve all levels and departments in an organization wide risk management effort. You may find yourself attending meetings that include staff from the Human Resources department, IT, security and infection prevention, lab and pharmacy. These meetings should include administrators as well as front line staff and nursing. It is imperative all opinions are heard, and that all voices are considered important in these meetings. Information you glean from medical records can alert infection control to issues it manages or the information technology department to problems with the new electronic health record system or human resources to trainings staff may need to function within guidelines.
• The quality management (along with risk management) department can be the staff who receive and manage adverse event reports that occur when things do not go exactly as planned in the course of patient care. These reports are a wealth of information that can include care issues, training issues and equipment function.
• If you advance to a quality management role, performance measures will become part of your work and well as cost/benefit analysis for projects the hospital or organization has planned or are currently active. What kinds of course learning is required for this certification?
There are many varied courses depending on the level you wish to attain. You can get a Master’s degree in this area. If this is your direction, there will be leadership courses required such as putting together a quality management team. Here is a list of some beginning and intermediate kinds of courses that may be useful as you follow this path:
• The definition of quality
• Systems thinking and quality management
• Principles of customer service
• Developing performance measures
• Basics of cost/benefit analysis
• Basics of risk management that include how to review an incident report, how to review and respond to a sentinel event, how to perform a root cause analysis
What kinds of positions could this certification lead to?
The jobs you could get with a certification in quality management are hospital or health systems based and include many different titles. Salaries are dependent on the area of the U.S. you are interested in, but are higher than the floor RN salaries as a general rule. Some job titles include:
• Chief quality/ clinical officer
• Director of Quality and Safety
• Director of Quality Management
• Quality Specialist
• Patient Safely officer
As I have alluded to, there are many ways to go about getting this education and many levels where you can learn, stop, go further, etc. You could just take a few courses and use the knowledge to improve value in your current position. You could get a certification after several weeks of classes, or you could complete a Master’s degree (for a two year, or more commitment) in this area. Whatever avenue you decide to pursue, will only benefit you as a care giver and your patients and community as your knowledge of quality care increases.