Certifiable! The Time Has Come for Certification for Flexible Endoscope Reprocessors

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During these times of healthcare reform and changing healthcare systems, it is important that, as professionals, we are able to demonstrate our ability and competency to our peers and the public. There are competency-based certification programs for many professions — including healthcare. Until now, certification for flexible endoscope reprocessors was not available, but this all changed in October 2006 when the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution, Inc. (CBSPD) embarked on a certification program for individuals who process flexible endoscopes.

The CBSPD is an independent certification board and the only sterile processing certification program that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. Despite already offering five levels of certification for processing personnel — technician, supervisor, manager, surgical instrument processor and ambulatory surgery processing technician — the CBSPD identified a need for this new, more specific credential.

Flexible endoscopes are expensive pieces of equipment, and due to their complex design, create unique challenges for cleaning.

Manufacturers of flexible endoscopes provide detailed information on proper processing of their equipment. However, processing failures that do occur usually are attributed to failure to follow those directions.

From 2006 until December 2007, the CBSPD worked closely with flexible endoscope reprocessors who had extensive expertise in the profession to develop the job analysis survey and examination questions. The first week in February 2008, the inaugural examination was administered.

All CBSPD certification examinations are computer-based. Test administration is performed by a professional testing agency with over 1,500 testing sites nationwide. In addition, the CBSPD offers paper/pencil exams at over 15 international sites including Mexico, Peru, Colombia, India, Pakistan, Guam, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, Canada, South Africa, Thailand and New Zealand.

The exams are offered during testing “windows” of one week’s time. This gives the candidates more flexibility and convenience in selecting a testing date and time. The testing “windows” are the first full week of the months of February, May, August and November.

During the summer of 2007, a job analysis survey was conducted by a psychometric agency contracted by the CBSPD. Specific knowledge and skills were identified by a focus group and then distributed for flexible endoscope reprocessors all over the country to respond. The data collected was tabulated and resulted in the test specifications for the exam.

These test specifications reflect the knowledge and skills identified in the 2007 job analysis for flexible endoscope reprocessors conducted by the CBSPD:

12 percent — infection control

13 percent — reprocessing techniques

19 percent — standard equipment for endoscopic procedures

11 percent — chemicals

10 percent — rules and regulations

14 percent — safety

7 percent — basic medical competencies and performance standards

3 percent — recordkeeping

4 percent — specimen handling

7 percent — ethical standards

It is interesting, but not surprising, to note that reprocessing techniques and standards equipment for endoscopic procedures represent 32 percent of the exam. This validates the importance of following manufacturers’ instructions for processing scopes.

The credential is called “Certified Flexible Endoscope Reprocessor.” The exam content covers all upper and lower GI flexible endoscopes and bronchoscopes. Also interesting is the fact that the flexible endoscope examination has 10 content areas — also called domains. This is more than any other CBSPD certification examination offered and demonstrates the wide range of knowledge and skills required for competent performance.

During the job analysis survey, eligibility requirements to sit for the exam were developed. Only one of the following requirements must be met in order to sit for the examination:

One year experience processing flexible endoscopes;

or

Successful completion of an endoscopy technician course with a minimum of 60 hours and a grade of 70 percent or better plus three months experience in processing flexible endoscopes; or

Six months experience in processing flexible endoscopes and a certificate of completion of an endoscopy training program of at least eight hours in length.

The fee to sit for the examination is $115. Candidates who pass are entitled to use the credential, “Certified Flexible Endoscope Reprocessor,” and a gold pin with the outline of a flexible endoscope is provided to all candidates who pass the exam.

The CBSPD developed a study guide that helps candidates prepare their course of study for the exam. There are sample questions in the guide to help candidates understand how competency-based questions are asked. Also in the study guide are references and suggested resources for preparing for the exam.

Initial certification is valid for five years. Re-certification requires an accumulation of 100 points over the five-year period. Certified flexible endoscope reprocessors are responsible to maintain their points for the entire five-year period. The CBSPD board of directors requires that all continuing education (CE) programs be pre-approved and program content be concentrated in subject areas directly related to the examination outline. The points for re-certification can be accumulated as follows:

Adult or Continuing Education Courses: These programs are defined as programs that extend over multiple days/weeks that cover exam content material but do not qualify as a “college” course. The course must be taken during the certificant’s five-year re-certification period. Programs in the following areas will be accepted: roles and responsibilities (quality assurance, regulations, guidelines, safety), life sciences (anatomy, physiology, microbiology), decontamination, sterilization, chemical disinfection, flexible scope processing, etc.). These programs will be awarded one point per contact hour for a maximum of five points per re-certification period. All such programs must be pre-approved by the CBSPD.

College courses will be awarded one point per credit hour with completion of the course with a grade of a “70” or better, to a maximum of 10 points per re-certification period. Proof of attendance and grade will be necessary at the time of re-certification. Examples of approved courses are: biology, chemistry, safety, anatomy/physiology, microbiology and computers. Other courses should be submitted to the CBSPD for consideration. The course must be taken during the certificant’s five-year re-certification period.

Working full time performing flexible endoscope responsibilities equals 10 points per year. Part-time employment (at least 20 hours per week) equals five points per year. Per diem (at least six days a month) equals three points per year. However, the maximum number of points permitted for employment over the five-year certification period is 50 points.

Other eligible options include published or Internet inservices; departmental inservices; chairing or serving on committees or holding office in a local, state, and/or national level of an endoscopy-related professional organization; writing an inservice with 10 post questions related to the CBSPD exam content outline; publishing an article related to CBSPD exam content outline during current re-certification period; presentations of flexible endoscope reprocessing educational programs that relate to the exam content outline to groups (other than departmental inservices).

Flexible endoscope reprocessors now have a means to document their competency. One of the major benefits to certification is that it drives knowledge. Candidates who wish to sit for the examination will study to prepare for the examination. To remain competent, the flexible endoscope reprocessors must maintain their competency through continuing education and experience. When knowledge and skills increase, performance is improved and so is patient care.

For more information, visit the CBSPD Web site at www.sterileprocessing.org. The CBSPD Inc. gratefully acknowledges Olympus America, Inc. for their support, which made this certification possible.

Nancy Chobin, RN, AAS, ACSP, CSPDM, is the volunteer executive director of the CBSPD and the sterile processing educator for the Saint Barnabas Health Care System in New Jersey. She can be reached at (800) 555-9765.

Who: Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution, Inc. (CBSPD)

What: Certified Flexible Endoscope Reprocessor

Where: All CBSPD certification examinations are computer-based; over 1,500 testing sites are available nationwide. Paper/pencil exams also are available in over 15 international sites

When: “Testing windows” last one week and are available the first full week of February, May, August and November

How: Call CBSPD to register: (800) 555-9765

Cost: $115

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