Overview of Online Patient Safety Certificate Programs
Healthcare professionals wishing to earn a certification credential in patient safety can pursue a graduate certificate program in healthcare quality and patient safety. These certificate programs are designed to help train nurses, healthcare managers, healthcare administrators, and public health professionals in industry best practices and ways to improve patient care. The need for expertise in patient safety has increased as the reporting of health outcomes at healthcare organizations has become more readily available to the public.
Online graduate certificate programs in healthcare quality and patient safety can be completed in less than a year, with some allowing students to finish in as little as 32 weeks. Students can complete these programs fully online and may have the flexibility to attend class at their own convenience. Applicants to these programs typically need to have at least a bachelor's degree and may need to meet a minimum GPA requirement; students who do not have prior work experience in healthcare may need to take additional coursework.
Online Patient Safety Certificates
Students in online patient safety certificate programs learn how to examine and analyze patient safety data and develop methods and plans for quality care improvement. These programs usually consist of around 4 courses that are designed to expose students to current technologies used in clinical decision-making and various metrics of quality.
General Requirements for Patient Safety Certificate Programs
Graduate certificate programs in healthcare quality and patient safety typically require 12 to 18 credits of core courses in the field. Some programs may offer multiple start dates for flexibility and/or allow students to access coursework 24/7 to work at their own pace. Some programs may also allow students to count credits from the certificate program towards a master's degree in areas like nursing or health.
Common Patient Safety Courses
Courses in quality improvement typically begin with an overview of the history and theories in the field. Students may then move on to explore the specific tools and models used in healthcare to improve quality, usually at the organizational level. Topics may include patient experience, tracking methods, patient satisfaction, and regulatory requirements.
These courses go by many different names, but they all typically incorporate a wide range of topics, such as biostatistics and health data analysis, healthcare research and analysis, or analysis and performance improvement. In general, students in these courses further develop their skills and abilities to gather data, tease relevant information out of the data and then understand how to apply to real-world issues in the healthcare industry. These courses typically train students in traditional statistical tools and methods.
Courses in patient safety also go by various names (Managing Patient Safety, Promoting Patient Safety Culture, Foundations of Improvement and Patient Safety) and may explore topics in managing patient safety, compliance and ways to promote patient safety within an organization. Students in these courses may receive an overview of the history of patient safety, ethical considerations in the field, and/or practical systems and approaches for providing quality patient safety.
Career Outcomes with a Certificate in Patient Safety
Certificates in patient safety generally do not qualify students for a particular career, but a variety of careers in healthcare may benefit from advanced skills in the subject. These certificate programs may be beneficial for nurses, healthcare administrators, and even roles specific to patient safety, like patient safety coordinators and directors of risk and quality. Nurses typically work hands-on with patients and might benefit from training in healthcare quality and patient safety. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals can have a diploma, associate's, or bachelor's degree in nursing and a license in the field. The BLS reported that registered nurses (RNs) made a median annual salary of $73,300, as of 2019.
The BLS groups a range of health administrators under the umbrella of medical and health services managers. These professionals need at least a bachelor's degree and some work experience in healthcare. Health administrators could utilize knowledge in patient safety as they oversee their organizations and ensure compliance with various laws and regulations. As of 2019, the BLS reported that medical and health services managers made a median salary of $100,980.
There are several online certificate programs available in healthcare quality and patient safety at the graduate level. Students in these programs usually complete 4 courses in less than a year completely online.