Chief Research Officer, Dennis Spence, PhD, MS, CRNA, FAAN Publishes in I.C.E.

Dr. Dennis Spence co-authored the Institute for Credentialing Excellence Credentialing Insights Article, “Survey Results: COVID-19’s Impact on Certifying Organizations” which was presented during a lunch and learn session at the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) Certification/Licensure Division last month. 

The article reviews the survey conducted by Spence and SeaCrest Consulting, which gathered information regarding how certifying organizations in the United States responded to COVID-19 related shutdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing requirements during 2020. The COVID-19 Impact Credentialing Survey was developed with input from ad-hoc volunteer workgroups that provided key feedback regarding survey development and participation in survey pilot testing. It included an accelerated adoption of live remote proctoring and rapid transitions from office-based to remote work settings and sought to answer the following questions:

  • How did organizations respond to the COVID-19 pandemic operationally and programmatically?
  • What change implementation occurred to address the needs of staff and other target audiences?
  • What future changes are anticipated by certifying organizations?

The final data analysis included information from 75 respondent organizations collected during January 2021. Most respondents were split between stand-alone certifying bodies (47%, N=35) and certification programs within a larger, parent organization (47%, N=35). The majority (57%, N=43) offer one to three programs. Most respondents (57%, N=42) stated that their programs addressed health care. Additional demographic data are included in the full report.

“Based on the survey results, most certifying organizations successfully shifted operations to remote work with few, if any, changes to staffing. Organizations reported providing increased customer service and communications ... Looking ahead, uncertainty remains for plans to return to in-office work settings. Continued use of remote work and remote proctoring strategies seem likely. In the long term, organizations will benefit from the adoption of new technology, increases in automation and improved communication channels. These rapid reactions to the pandemic provide increased flexibility for responding to future crisis events.”

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Overall, for most organizations, staff size remained the same and employees successfully shifted to remote work settings. More than three-quarters of organizations (78%, N=58) made no changes to their certification department staffing due to the pandemic. Interestingly, while staff size tended to remain the same, most organizations reported that they had increased their marketing and communications resources and customer service support for certifications. Specifically, most (70%, N=52) developed COVID-19 specific resources and communications, and more than one-third increased the amount of marketing and communications related promotional and/or certification/recertification related materials. 

Further, while the impact of travel restrictions was wide-ranging, volunteers for most organizations remained available to participate virtually. More than half (53%, N=38) reported that volunteer availability to participate remained the same. Regarding testing and other operations, test site closures and reduced capacity caused significant disruptions. Specifically, more than half of the programs reported that testing sites were temporarily unavailable (55%, N=39). Impact on the practitioner’s workforce varied, with half of the organizations reporting increased demand and the other reporting short-term decreases. 

Further, while NBCRNA responded to the pandemic by making the decision to move the Certification Renewal deadline for the first large group of more than 20k CRNAs from July 31, 2020 to November 30, 2020, most organizations (67%, N=45) also adjusted deadlines in response to the pandemic. Overall, the survey results on COVID-19’s Impact on Certifying Organizations offered a robust, holistic overview of the credentialing community and important insight moving forward. To read the full report, click here.

Upcoming Research Studies

The Evaluation and Research Department (ERD) is finalizing two research studies which will launch late May or early June. The studies include:

  • Phase 1b - Value of the CPC Program: in this pilot study CRNAs who completed the CPCA will be asked to complete a survey on their perceptions about the CPC Program and its components.
  • Phase 2 - Value of the Credential: Exploration of Chief CRNAs Perceptions on the CPC Program. 

Visiting Research Fellow, Dr. Nicole Hymel, DNP, CRNA, will be conducting semi-structured interviews of Chief CRNAs from around the country. The ERD staff will coordinate with other NBCRNA departments and communicate with the board on launch dates for these two projects.