ASCP and NCA create a single credentialing agency, effective October 23, 2009
Life is about to become simpler for Medical Technologists (MTs) and Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLSs)! A single certification agency for medical laboratory professionals was announced last Friday, based on an agreement between the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Registry (BOR) and the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA).
The new, consolidated credentialing entity will be called the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC). Effective on October 23, 2009, the ASCP BOC will serve as the certification body for medical laboratory professionals. The NCA will be dissolved as a corporation.
Finalization of this agreement was jointly announced by Kathleen Becan-McBride, Ed.D., MT(ASCP), Chair of the ASCP Board and Registry Board of Governors, and Susan Morris, CLS (NCA), NCA President. It was last July 21 when both groups first disclosed their agreement to form a new consolidated agency for certifying medical laboratory professionals. (See Dark Daily, “MT & CLS Laboratory Certification Agencies Agree to Unite”)
According to E. Blair Holladay, PhD, SCT (ASCP), Executive Director of ASCP Board of Registry, this new credentialing entity essentially ends the polarization and confusion in the area of official recognition for lab professionals. “This agreement affects some 500,000 medical lab professionals that both organizations have certified over the past 30 and 80 years respectively” said Holladay.
“All individuals certified by the BOR and those that maintain active certification by the NCA will be transferred to the new Board of Certification, and no examination will be required,” noted Holladay. “In addition, those individuals certified as clinical laboratory professionals by either organization under their mandatory recertification or certification maintenance program (CMP) will receive new credentialing designations.
“Medical Technologists (MT) and Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLS) will receive a unified designation and be called Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS), and the ‘ASCP’ suffix will be attached to all BOC certifications. The designation will be MLS (ASCP),” continued Holladay. “Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLT) and Clinical Laboratory Technicians (CLT) will be unified as Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLT).”
“For new graduates, a single credential and single standard of qualification will simplify entry into the profession,” said Morris. “Likewise, employers will find it easier to set standards for entry level competency that will ensure patient safety.”
“Unity in the clinical laboratory profession will bring more recognition and respect from the public and other healthcare professions,” explained Becan-McBride. “We will increase our credibility when advocating for the profession on legislative and regulatory issues that impact our practice.”
“By bringing these two organizations together and unifying the credentialing process, we end 30 years of polarization of credentialing,” Holladay commented. “Having two credentials polarized hiring practices among laboratories and forced educators of laboratory training programs to choose between two agencies when recommending certification to their students. It also was confusing for personnel departments in hospitals and laboratories to identify which credential they should seek when hiring a laboratory professional.
“It was not an overnight process to bring about a single certification agency,” added Holladay. “It took four years and involved many hours of negotiation in order to identify the myriad factors important for both organizations. Most professions have a single certifying body and one credential. That’s not true in the laboratory medicine profession.”
The BOC Board of Governors will be composed of five ASCP Fellows (pathologists), five ASCP laboratory professionals, four representatives of ASCLS, two representatives of the Association of Genetic Technologists, eight representatives from the eight participating societies respectively, and one public representative.
Laboratory professionals should view the consolidation of credentialing as a positive step forward for the future of laboratory medicine. In response to changing medical technologies and new forms of healthcare delivery systems, the laboratory medicine profession needs to better align laboratory education and training to meet the demand which will be mandated by this new paradigm of practice. The unification of these organizations and the formation of the ASCP Board of Certification is one important step in this transformation.