The American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA)is a non-profit trade organization primarily for individuals who manage nursing homes or long term care facilities or who have a substantial interest in such a facility. This organization has extensive information on obtaining licensure to be manager of one of these facilities. There are requirements to pass a national exam and, in most states, a state licensure program and exam as well. The states administer the national exam, called the NAB exam (after the National Association of Boards of Examiners of Long Term Care Administrators).
Each state has its own requirements for taking the national exam. Some require that you be engaged in or have completed an Administrator-in-Training program, which is a six-month, on-the-job apprenticeship-type course of study. Most states require a bachelor’s degree to qualify for the exam, but the field of study need not be health or business oriented. The ACHCA has a bookstore with preparatory materials for the national exam at http://portal.achca.org/PortalTools/Shopper/Index.cfm. The NAB also has material on the exam available: you can contact them through http://www.nabweb.org/Home/default.aspx.
You must contact your state of residency to determine their specific requirements for taking the national exam and what additional steps are required for state licensure. Most states also require annual renewal of the license, accompanied by proof of some hours devoted to continuing education in the field each year.The ACHCA has continuing education courses available that will help meet the requirements for re-licensure. As with the national and state test requirements, standards vary from state to state. There is an area on the ACHCA web site with state-specific contact information, but you must be a member of the organization to access it.
ACHCA also maintains a certification program. They make the case that while licensure assures competency, certification assures a standard of excellence – and that excellence in the field is a goal of the organization. Eligibility for the nursing home administrator certification is as follows: Two consecutive years of experience running a nursing facility and a license as an NHA; a bachelor’s degree if licensed after January of 1996; and forty hours of continuing education in the two years prior to the exam pertinent to the nursing home administration field.
For certification in the assisted living facility administrator field, eligibility for the exam includes: A current NHA license or Assisted Living (AL) license and two year’s experience running an assisted living facility; OR a bachelor’s degree and two year’s experience running an AL facility; OR an associate’s degree or RN degree and four year’s management experience in an AL facility; OR a GED or high school diploma and six year’s experience running a facility; AND forty hours of continuing education in the two years prior to the exam.
The American College of Health Care Administrators is an organization of nursing home and assisted living facility administrators. Membership provides you with the usual professional connections, an annual trade show and academic support for both licensure and certification in the profession. It is a well equipped help desk for those interested in the field.