Education doesn't end with a medical degree for more than 1,700 medical providers at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, it's a continuous practice which adds to patient care, safety and the evolution of scope of practice. Patients can rest assure their provider is credentialed and privileged to provide the care they do because of WBAMC's Credentialing staff.
Leading the charge is the department's chief, Michelle Vera, who recently completed a Leadership Certificate Program from her profession's national organization, the first medical services professional in El Paso to do so.
Medical credentialing allows patients to be confident placing their care and trust in the hands of their health care providers. The practice goes beyond verifying the academic degrees plastered on provider's walls are authentic by tracking provider's training, experience, and Continuing Medical Education (CME) maintaining their clinical proficiency.
Vera, a native of El Paso, Texas, has worked in the field for more than two decades watching the profession evolve along with medical care.
"Back when I started in 1996, you couldn't fake a diploma or certification, today things are easier to manipulate," said Vera.
Vera's recent certificate prepares her to lead her department in effective negotiations, corporate responsibility and compliance and financial matters.
"With this certification, it really has to do with leadership and medical staff services and budget negotiations, ethics, changes in healthcare and communications with professionals," said Vera. "With changes in technology and the profession, (medical services professions) started adding more training and requirements to move toward (better identification of) quality and competent providers."
According to Vera, credentialing differs from privileging as credentialing is the process of verifying qualifications, leading to providers' privileges, limiting them in their scope of practice.
"In credentialing, we verify the credentials of providers which are (not limited to) licenses and work history for the past 10 years," said Vera. "Privileging, is when we match up their training and experience to what their scope of practice will be here. Providers apply for privileges every two years, so we can verify what they've been doing (in clinical practice)."
Through these processes, Vera and her staff provide patients with the security of knowing their providers have been verified to be clinically capable of providing them safe patient care.
"We manage doctors, social workers, clinical pharmacists, dietitians, and anyone who has a license (including Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical/ Vocational Nurses and others)," said Vera. "We ensure they are trained to do a certain procedure or therapy while following Joint Commission recommendations, Army Regulations and state laws."
In recent years many medical breakthroughs have been undertaken by WBAMC staff. Vera's team manages the requirements necessary for new procedures to be performed at WBAMC, to include establishing credentialing criteria, and prerequisites for performing the procedure.
For Vera, who also holds two other elite certifications in her field, her recent certificate is another notch on her belt reminding her of the trust patients put in their providers and the important functions of the credentialing staff.
"These certificates are evolving as the profession evolves," said Vera.