Certifications are one way of showing knowledge of an applied or specialized subject. There are many different certificates out there in many different fields, including healthcare facility management. How valuable a certification is, however, depends on the program as not all certificates are created equal.
“Most certifications do not hold value and the way they assess that is the by the fact that most certifications are not required for jobs. They do not put them on the job postings and of the thousands of certifications that are out there, there is probably about 100 that say employees must have this certification,” says Michael Canales, HFL program director and professor at Kentucky Community & Technical College System. “So, some are recommended, some are required and some are not even mentioned. The reality is because lots of certifications do not really line up with the employer's competencies. They are more industry internal certifications, almost like you are part of a network.”
That does not mean that all certifications are inherently worthless. It more or less means that if someone is to go for a certificate, they have to make sure the certificate is worth their time and will be valuable to a potential employer. There are other benefits to getting a certification, too.
“The other part is when you have a valuable certification, the things it does, like meeting industry needs. That is the key part of it, too. It is not necessarily easy, and it is an effort to get there. You lay a foundation,” says Canales. “Once you get that certification, I think the advantage or the positive is that the requirement to keep staying on top of your industry education and keep professionally developing. So again, that's the advantage of having those things. If it is a good certification, the industry wants it and you keep growing in the industry.”
To make a worthwhile and comprehensive certificate for healthcare facilities is exactly what Canales set out to do. In the Kentucky Community & Technical College System, Canales oversees the Healthcare Facilities Leadership program. Within that program is a Healthcare Facility Technician certification.
“The gold standard for the industry since the 1990s has been CHFM, or Certified Healthcare Facility Manager. There is also now a certified healthcare facility technician and that's HFT. So, that aligns with my academic program,” says Canales. “I have some academic certificates which are different than a professional development certificate. With an academic certificate, you take a body of classes with credit hours that leads into a certificate.”
Canales worked in healthcare facilities management for years, though he decided to go into the academic side and teach upcoming healthcare facility employees. His program is also a potential alternative to CHFM. While different from CHFM, they both offer a foundational understanding of healthcare facilities. CHFM differs mainly since it is an exam whereas Canales’ offering Is a certificate program. With his program, Canales aims to give students a foundation of the nuances of working in a healthcare facility, when compared to other facilities.
“When you get into healthcare buildings, they are unique buildings. The fact that it is clinically involved with the patient and about a dozen other facets – medical gas, air, ventilation, electrical surfaces, infection prevention – it's involved with the patient's outcomes,” says Canales. “I think of it [healthcare facility management] as more of a clinical maintenance department. The building heals and hurts patients. We protect the most vulnerable in the world. Whether they be in surgery, on a ventilator or in an incubator, they can't move. So, we must protect them where they are. It is so that building is designed, operated and maintained to protect people where they are.”
Canales’ program is relatively new; however, he is hopeful that it will push the industry to progress onward in coming years. To learn more about Canales’ Healthcare Facilities Technician certificate and other programs offered, check out the program page here.
Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market.