Test pilots praise certification efforts

Test pilots praise certification effortsIt all started with a list. You know, that list of goals and objectives for next year the boss requires you to write? Even when I wrote down, "take the CMRP exam," I had doubts about whether I could actually do it. After all, real life takes almost all of our time.

Not long after we created our next fiscal year goals, the AHRMM Web site had an item reminding us that the price to take the exam would go up in 2005. Well, the time was right, but I still didn't want to study alone. A quick e-mail to the buyers and managers to ask if anyone wanted to study with me got tremendous response. When so many wanted to participate, we approached Jim Smoker, director of materials resource services, with a proposal ... one hour a week for 10 weeks to take the online courses and study together. As one of the original Certified Materials Re source Professionals (CMRP), he seemed pleased with the idea. "I've often thought I would like to require it and give the staff time to phase it in," Smoker said. So the project was a go.

We drew up a budget, detailing the cost of the online courses, the cost of taking the test and the advantages of asking each member to join AHRMM. We started with nine members: Five buyers, a site manager, an MMIS client coordinator, a stores supervisor and a clinical products coordinator. Our facility also has dedicated buyers in some specialty departments, so by the time we were ready to study, we also had two pharmacy buyers and a lab buyer as members of the group. Twelve in all.

Our meetings were held the last hour of the workday, and we used electronic teleconferencing to include members at another facility. We asked six of the members to take the lead on the six topics and moderate the session on that topic. We did the study guides and discussed the questions and our answers as a group. Believe me, some lively discussions ensued. We always left the sessions wanting more.

In addition to the study guides, we had a lecture on negotiating and contracting from our director and we spent the last two of the 10 sessions reviewing.

Everyone took the test during the two months between mid-November and mid-January. As each person went to test, we called to wish them well and ask how it went. The reviews were mixed. Most thought the test was difficult. Some were adamant that they would never take it again. Others found it a comprehensive application of the information. The one thing that surprised most of us was that it was far from a regurgitation of data. It asked for the application of the principles we reviewed. In hindsight, it was fair and comprehensive. By and large, our team decided to take the class and sit for the CMRP for four primary reasons:

* Education and professional affiliation

* Building team spirit among the group

* To increase our pay grades

* To verify that we are professionals

What helped us most:

1. Support from management

2. Support from our peers

3. The CMRP Study Guide

4. Responses from the AHRMM test center.

We asked questions if we did not understand.

What we're most proud of:

1. The 10 of us doubled the list of CMRPs in our state

2. The team spirit we developed doing this together.

3. The support we received from management and each other.

Every participant praised our director's administrative support, both motivational and financial. He allowed us the time, used the education and travel budget to finance the study materials and testing, taught one session and encouraged us, all blessed by the vice president he reports to.

All five of the materials resource services buyers are now CMRP-certified, as are our MMIS client coordinator and stores supervisor, site manager, clinical products coordinator and a pharmacy buyer. We are very proud of ourselves. We always had a wonderful group who worked well together, but this experience, and the verification of our collective expertise, has given us a new respect for each other and a renewed attitude of professionalism.

CMRP Time Line

Month Activities and Outcomes

August 2004 The idea forms. Talked to Varlen Gibbs who said he had
been trying to get around to it for two years. E-mail
to the buyers. Positive response from all seven.
Realized this could get expensive but would also be an
ideal topic for group study. We took the proposal to
the director who was delighted to approve.

September Asked the members to give preferences for day and time
of recurring meeting. Picked the most popular time slot
and scheduled with outlook calendaring for the site and
the electronic conferencing equipment. We met Tuesdays,
3-4 p.m. for 10 of 12 weeks. Most members attended most
of the sessions. During our first meeting we determined
the sequence of topics, assigned topics to individuals
to study and lead the session, and decided to also
invite the department buyers (five additional members).
Session 1: Organization. Sessions 2-8: Six Modules and
Contracting session. Sessions 9-10: Review and Sample

October Sessions progressed. Studied from the online courses
coupled with the CMRP study guide. [Site Manager] Dan
Stonesifer took the test and passed. He served as an
inspiration to us all!

November Had a session with [Director] Jim Smoker who discussed
testing strategies and contracting. All of which served
as a review. Did two additional sessions to review the
modules and take a "sample test" created from the
questions from each module. Completed the sessions the
week before Thanksgiving.

December- Scheduled and took tests. Ten of 12 passed. We hope to
January 2005 encourage the other two to retake it. Called to offer
luck, congratulations or commiseration after each test.

February Celebration luncheon for the team! We were very proud
of ourselves!

Liz Veazey, R.N., MBA, CMRP, is clinical products coordinator, materials resource services, Wellspan Health, York, PA. The following colleagues also contributed to this story. Senior Buyers Timothy Blough, MBA, CMRP, Glenda Fake, CMRP, Sara Lutman, CMRR Donna Mullins, CMRP, and Debra Weatherly, CMRP; MMIS Client Coordinator Varlen Gibbs, CMRP, Stores Supervisor Todd Herbert, CMRP, Pharmacy Buyer Jayne Snyder, CMRP, Site Manager Dan Stonesifer, CMRR Director of Materials Resource Services Jim Smoker, MPA, CMRP, and Vice President Keith Noll.