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Certification Programs for Medical Communication Professionals
by Chris Lawrence
- How can you convey to potential clients or employers that you have knowledge and proficiency in a particular area of medical communications?
- What differentiator can your organization use to identify or narrow down scientific communication agencies or individuals when choosing from a large pool of candidates to potentially partner with or hire?
- How can you demonstrate to your current employer that you are committed to professional development and increase your career advancement opportunities or earning potential?
One answer to each of these questions is professional certification.
Professional certification enables an individual to readily demonstrate competency and adherence to established standards and practices though the use of an earned credential. There are multiple, highly relevant certification programs available to medical communication professionals, each of which has its own area of focus, eligibility requirements, and evaluation process. This blog reviews certification programs offered by 3 different professional societies.
Board of Editors in the Life Sciences certification programs
Medical editors who are experienced and proficient in editing life science manuscripts may demonstrate their scientific editing expertise by receiving certification from the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS) in one or both of its certification programs. Eligibility for BELS certification typically requires a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent degree from an accredited academic institution and ≥2 years of experience as an editor of life science manuscripts; specific editing experience may be substituted for the academic requirements and vice versa. The editor must consistently be involved in editing the scientific and intellectual content, as well as the format, of life science manuscripts. Eligible candidates may register for the BELS certification exam. The exam assesses the ability to substantively edit scientific text, tables, and figures, including the solving of syntactic problems in technically complex passages and the application of knowledge of scientific publishing conventions, author-editor interactions, units of measure, and mathematics. Individuals who pass the exam may identify themselves as being BELS-certified editors by using the Editor in the Life Sciences (ELS) credential. A BELS-certified editor who has extensive scientific editing experience and wishes to become further distinguished as having exceptional proficiency as a life sciences editor may apply to BELS for diplomate status. To be eligible for the diplomate program, a candidate must have been a BELS-certified editor for ≥2 years and have ≥6 years of relevant editing experience. Eligible candidates must write 2 essays and submit a portfolio of edited material along with descriptions of the circumstances pertaining to the editorial work performed. Individuals who pass the diplomate program earn the use of the ELS(D) credential. All certified and diplomate members of BELS are credentialed for life—there is no requirement for reexamination to maintain the certified or diplomate credential.
International Society for Medical Publication Professionals certification program
Individuals who are experienced in medical publication planning and medical education and seek to demonstrate their proficiency in this area may apply to become a Certified Medical Publication Professional™ (CMPP™) through the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP). Eligibility for CMPP certification requires a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent degree from an accredited academic institution and ≥4000 hours of active employment predominantly involving publication plan development, tactical plan development, and/or publication plan implementation; candidates with a high school diploma or its equivalent as their highest academic achievement must have ≥10,000 hours of such professional experience. The exam assesses knowledge of best practices in the medical publication profession and proficiency in adhering to industry standards of transparency and ethics. It comprises 4 main domains: publication plan development, tactical plan development, publication plan implementation, and professional responsibilities. Eligible candidates become certified after passing an exam, which allows them to use the ISMPP CMPP™ credential. Certification is valid for 5 years, after which a certificant must apply to recertify either through reexamination or by accumulating a minimum of relevant continuing education credits to maintain the credential.
American Medical Writers Association certification program
Professional medical writers may choose to demonstrate their accumulated knowledge and skills by completing a medical writing certification program developed by the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) in collaboration with the Medical Writing Certification Commission. Eligibility for certification requires a bachelor’s degree and ≥2 years of full-time work experience (or the equivalent) within the past 5 years; experience must have been in a paid capacity in the field of medical writing. Exceptions to the academic requirement may be made for individuals with ≥5 years of full-time relevant work experience (or the equivalent) conducted in a paid capacity within the past 10 years. Eligible candidates may take the certification exam, which evaluates an individual’s knowledge of core areas of competency in medical writing (ie, gathering, evaluating, organizing, interpreting, and presenting medical information). Those who pass the exam earn the use of the Medical Writer Certified (MWC®) credential. Certification is valid for 5 years, after which a certificant must apply to recertify either through reexamination or by accumulating a minimum of relevant continuing education credits to maintain the credential.
If you are interested in further demonstrating your professional credibility by completing one or more of these certification programs, then refer to the website of the overseeing organization for additional details and updates…and then go get certified!
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