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|Does Board Certification Really Matter?|
Does Board Certification Really Matter?
Laura Matarese, PhD, RDN, LDN, CNSC, and Rebecca Brody, PhD, RD, LD, CNSC
Improved outcomes for consumers is the primary goal of specialization in any health care profession. Health care professionals, including those in nutrition support, often also choose to become certified in their specialized areas of practice. Certification is a measure of knowledge and application in a particular area beyond formal education and experience.
The primary purpose for certification is patient safety. Through certification, which is voluntary, a professional board formally recognizes the specialized knowledge, skills, and expertise in a specific area of practice. Certification establishes competency standards in the specialty and offers recognition for those who have met the standards. To become certified, a professional must take a standardized comprehensive examination that measures current skills and knowledge.
Yes, Board Certification Matters
From the consumer perspective, the question remains, “How can I know which health care professionals are
uniquely qualified to provide my care?” One way is to look at the credentials after the clinician’s name.
Researchers tested the hypothesis that those who possessed the Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) credential administered by the National Board of Nutrition Support Certification (NBNSC) had greater knowledge of nutrition support than those who do not have the credential. It seems intuitive but no one has ever proved it—until now. The results of the study demonstrated that multidisciplinary health care professionals who hold the CNSC scored significantly higher on a survey about their approaches to nutrition support practice than those who do not hold the credential. The study was targeted to health care professionals affiliated with the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.), and the results were published in A.S.P.E.N.’s research journal, the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.
The electronic survey used for the study included eight multiple choice knowledge questions that addressed evidence-based nutrition support practice issues for a patient with progressing pancreatitis. Over 4,400 individuals responded to the survey.
Respondents with the CNSC answered 6.18 out of 8 questions correctly, as compared to non-CNSC respondents who answered 4.56 questions correctly. For all 8 questions, CNSC respondents were significantly more likely to choose the correct answer as compared to non-CNSC respondents. The fact that the CNSC respondents answered 20 percent more of the questions correctly is a clinically meaningful difference considering each question addressed a specific safe nutrition support practice. The majority of those who took the survey were dietitians (70.8 percent) in nutrition support practice for ten years, and 29 percent held the CNSC credential.
Choosing Your Health Care Providers
The purpose of certification is protection of the public. Specialty certification provides a means to assess whether an individual has attained sufficient knowledge to provide safe and effective care. It allows the public and the scientific community to identify qualified nutrition support clinicians.
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