Grow Your Hospital Career with FACHE Credential

ACHE/CHLM Leadership Institute Will Speed Career Growth

November 20, 2019

By Eileen Denne, CAE, APR

For PAs interested in transitioning from clinical leader to executive within a hospital or healthcare organization, consider the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and Center for Healthcare Leadership and Management (CHLM) Leadership Institute. The online continuing education program allows PAs to earn 24 of the required 36 hours of healthcare-related continuing education to be eligible to pursue the ACHE credentialing process. This credential can help you grow your career and be recognized as a leader among executives in healthcare management.

The ACHE/CHLM Leadership Institute includes 12 on-demand self-study courses; a 6-week online Emerging Healthcare Leader Seminar; 4 webinars and one complimentary ACHE membership through the end of 2020.

Maureen Regan headshot
Maureen Regan, MBA, PA-C, FACHE, DFAAPA

Maureen Regan, MBA, PA-C, FACHE, DFAAPA, is one of a handful of PAs to become an ACHE Fellow, which has earned her the FACHE credential. To qualify, healthcare professionals must have a master’s degree, five or more years of management experience, and 36 hours of healthcare-related continuing education every three years, and then pass the Board of Governors Exam. The credential can greatly expand professional opportunities in healthcare management. “There are some jobs you can’t even apply for without this credential,” Regan says.

Regan sees clinical PAs moving into healthcare executive positions as a natural career progression for the profession at large. “The more senior PAs should be advancing into other roles, whether it is in industry, in healthcare administration, or…into leadership positions at universities,” she says. “We have to evolve into these other opportunities.”

[Maureen Regan: From Clinical Provider to Healthcare Exec]

Regan shared with AAPA why she pursued the ACHE credential and why others might consider the ACHE/CHLM Leadership Institute.

Why did you pursue the ACHE credential? PAs are well established in the practice of quality, cost effective medicine. As the profession matures there is equal opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise in the business of medicine. By having frontline experience in what works and what doesn’t work as well as being able to identify waste and inefficiencies, PAs can add much to healthcare administration including informatics, population health, operations, human resources, and academic medicine. The FACHE credential allowed me to advocate for patients on the “business side of the house” with an objective validation of accomplishment and knowledge.

What are the benefits of that recognition as PA leader? The recognition affords PAs the opportunity to be considered for positions in the healthcare industry that were historically occupied by other providers, nurses or lay administrators. It also ensures we have the breadth and depth of knowledge of all healthcare delivery interfaces to successfully advance as a healthcare leader in finance, procurement, informatics, and more. The credential also gives PAs the chance to be part of the cohort to educate future ACHE Fellows about healthcare delivery including the role PAs play.

When I took my Board Exam Review Course, PAs were not even mentioned as an integral solution to healthcare workforce issues despite being recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Health Statistics, Forbes, and others as one of the fastest growing professions. There was not a single PA on the Review Course Faculty. It was an opportunity to break yet another glass ceiling!

What does it take to pursue the credential? What steps did you find most challenging? The credential ensures that a FACHE has the fundamental knowledge to be a healthcare administrator. Those who take it are from all corners of healthcare, IT, Materials Management, Finance, Health Information Management and, of course, Nurses and Clinicians.  Successful candidates are required to have mastered knowledge about content that may not be familiar to them.  I was fortunate that in addition to practicing medicine, I had held positions in academic medicine and hospital operations. I also possess an MBA so the curriculum for the exam was more of a review. Without that experience and knowledge, it would have been a more arduous process.

Why is it important for PAs to consider such a credential? It is very important for PAs who want to step outside of the practice of medicine to obtain such a credential; it is the equivalent of being a Fellow in a professional/clinical discipline. It adds credibility to your knowledge base and experience among your peers and external stakeholders. The ACHE ensures the integrity of the credential, a credential that is invaluable to one’s professional portfolio.

How has the credential been important to your career? The FACHE credential has been important to my professional career but has also fostered an important opportunity to advocate for my profession. When I became a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives I was one of the very few PAs at the time who was a FACHE. I initiated a discussion with the AAPA and the ACHE to explore ways to have more PAs get involved with the ACHE and benefit from its executive leadership opportunities. Personally, it has afforded me professional opportunities and a network of learning and speaking forums to educate others about healthcare administration from a clinician’s perspective. There are employers who will only consider applicants who have the FACHE credential or state a preference for FACHE candidates so being a FACHE opens doors to career paths.

What advice can you share with other PAs considering the ACHE/CHLM Leadership Institute? There are many healthcare leadership opportunities for PAs inside the four walls or virtual space of healthcare delivery and within the many industry, regulatory, and legislative entities that support healthcare. Many PAs, after spending time as a clinician, transition as the chief or director of a service line or similar responsibility and progress from there. Others may have a prior degree in business and obtained the PA credential to have knowledge of the practice of medicine; they may spend very little time as a clinician before pursuing a career as a healthcare administrator. There are many paths to obtain one’s goal; the end result of the goal of a PA healthcare administrator is the advantage we have to effect positive change in healthcare delivery and service to patients by combining  our knowledge of medicine, our collaborative, team-based work style, and objective evidence of successfully completing courses related to the business of medicine.

Eileen Denne is director of corporate communications at AAPA. Contact her at edenne@aapa.org.