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AMTA Leaders Question New "Artists in Healthcare Certification"

May 21, 2014 11:52 AM


In an effort to fulfill our mission to increase access to quality music therapy services by qualified professionals, AMTA frequently monitors those practicing in areas related to music therapy. We believe that it is not a good thing when consumers and families potentially are confused about the scope and level of services they receive, and the qualifications of those providing the services. It was in the spirit of clarifying potential confusion about the pilot testing of an exam to “credential” artists in healthcare, that Dr. Alicia Clair, Past-President and Treasurer, and Dr. Andi Farbman, Executive Director, spent four days attending the annual meeting of the Global Alliance for Arts and Health last month. AMTA’s role is to preserve, protect, and safeguard the practice of evidence-based music therapy so that vulnerable populations can be assured that they are receiving the treatment that is indicated from qualified music therapists.

As you will see from the summary that follows, we continue to be concerned about the fact that the Global Alliance for Arts and Health is currently pilot testing an exam to “credential” “professionals” as artists in healthcare with the following designation, AIH-C.  Our primary concern is that there is no formal training required to sit for the exam. In order to sit for the exam, “criteria include a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED) and 500 hours of experience as an artist during the past five years facilitating an art form in a health, education, or community context.” We do not understand how this could be considered as a “credential” or “professional certification”; and we do not understand how this is in the best interest of quality patient care or could be justified as directed toward “patient safety.”  AMTA will continue to monitor the implementation of the exam. A detailed list of next steps is included in the summary.



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AMTA Leaders Attend Annual Meeting of the Global Alliance for Arts & Health to Ask Questions about their Pilot Testing of “Artists in Healthcare-Certification” (AIH-C)

Houston, Texas, April 9-12, 2014
(Report published May 20, 2014)


Background and Objectives

Representing AMTA, Dr. Alicia Clair, Past-President and Treasurer, and Dr. Andi Farbman, Executive Director, attended the annual meeting of the Global Alliance for Arts & Health in Houston, Texas, from April 9-12th.  Participation by Drs. Clair and Farbman focused on two objectives 1) convening a meeting with the chair of the “Artists in Healthcare Certification Commission,” Helen Currier, and any other representatives of the Certification Commission and representatives of the GAAH Board, to discuss a list of concerns outlined by AMTA in memos to GAAH dated March 13th and April 4th ; and 2)attending a plenary session updating conference attendees about the exam. There were approximately 260 conference attendees; they had planned for 500.

Meeting with GAAH Certification Officials

The AIH Certification Exam group included:

  • Helen Currier, BSN, RN, CNN, CENP, GAAH Vice President and Chair of Competency Task Force (Chair of Certification); Director, Renal Services, Dialysis/Pheresis, Vascular Access/Wound, Ostomy, Continence, Palliative Care Services, Texas Children’s Hospital
  • Judy Rollins, PhD, RN, Rollins & Associates (private consulting firm)
  • Jill Sonke, MA (Human Services), Director of University of Florida’s Center for Arts in Medicine, —undergrad and grad certs; new MA in Arts in Medicine at UF (August, 2014); Assistant Director of UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine
  • Elaine Sims, MS (Medical Consumer Affairs), Director, Gifts of Art, University of Michigan Health System
  • Cam Busch, MEd, RN, PMHCNS-BC, ATR-BC, LPAT, owner “Art Therapy Consults and Studio” nurse, artist, art therapist


  • Jenny Lee, MA, BC-DMT, Dance/Movement  therapist, Arts in Medicine program, Shands Hospital, UF (not listed as a member of the certification group but we were told that she was added to write exam items)

We had a brief 7:00 a.m. meeting on Thurs. April 10th with Helen Currier as chair of the Competency Task Force (which was the title she was using instead of Chair of the Certification Commission), Misty Chambers as the president of GAAH, and Jenny Lee who is a dance therapist involved with writing exam items. We met for approximately 30 minutes. We expressed our concerns and raised questions that were articulated in the April 4th emailed memo. We expressed a desire to work toward establishing a clear scope of practice that could allow artists in healthcare to work on a continuum of patient care.  They listened to our comments, but we did not feel that our concerns were adequately addressed.  They offered no other meeting times during or following the conference.

What We Learned

The summary of what we learned from certification FAQs and presentations at the GAAH conference:

  1. GAAH is advertising the “Artists in Healthcare Certification” (AIH-C) as a professional certification leading to a credential.
  2. The stated purpose is to “determine if the artist has the minimal level of competency to safely and effectively work in the healthcare environment.”
  3. The GAAH exam is being developed by a nursing testing firm, CNET—Center for Nursing Education and Training.  CNET exams include, for example, the areas of dermatology, med-surgical, and nephrology. CNET’s CEO is Dr. Peg Garbin who has a nursing background, and experience and training as a psychometrician.
  4. The purpose of the exam is to certify “artists in healthcare”; but we understood the CEO of CNET, Dr. Peg Garbin, to state that the exam does not test anything about “the arts.”
  5. An artist is defined by GAAH as “a person who produces, performs or facilitates creative work in any of the arts that is primarily subject to aesthetic criteria and who has been prepared in the arts through education and/or professional experience.”
  6. Examples of the arts, listed on the pilot test application form, include: “visual arts-- drawing, painting, photography, electronic art, sculpting, film-making, jewelry-making, ceramics, woodworking; music-- instrumental and voice; dance; writing; drama/story-telling; botanical arts; clowning; puppetry; and other (please specify).”
  7. In order to sit for the exam, “criteria include a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED) and 500 hours of experience as an artist during the past five years facilitating an art form in a health, education, or community context.”
  8. Given how the eligibility criteria are delineated, i.e., experience…in a health, education, or community context,” an individual could have experience in a recreation center or a school and no experience in a healthcare setting and, upon successful completion of the exam, receive certification as an “Artist in Healthcare.”
  9. No formal training of any kind is required to sit for this exam.
  10. No standards exist for settings in which the 500 hours of experience can be accrued. Two letters of recommendations from supervisors at relevant settings will be required to confirm experience.
  11. “The pilot test is NOT for therapists in the arts who have specialized advanced education and who practice in therapeutic relationships with patients as members of the professional healthcare team. The scope of practice of therapists in the arts far exceeds that of artists in healthcare; therefore, participation of therapists in the arts in the pilot testing would bias the test results.”
  12. Performance on the pilot test does not count towards actual certification.
  13. Exam content areas include “1. Healthcare culture, 2. Providing services, 3. Interpersonal and communication skills in healthcare, 4. Environmental safety, 5. Self-awareness and self-care of the artist.”
  14. GAAH plans to apply for accreditation of the exam either through American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) after one year of giving the exam and 500 individuals have completed the pilot test.
  15. When asked what would happen if the test was not accredited, they replied, “We’ll just keep trying until we get it right.”
  16. They also stated that they did not believe that the exam accrediting bodies would review content, only process of exam development.
  17. We did not see evidence of a formal empirical job analysis across arts and/or across job settings. A valid job analysis is a major determination of a valid exam. GAAH  stated that they have completed a “logical job analysis” and that an empirical job analysis often follows a logical job analysis.
  18. Though they state these documents are “in process,” and will be completed by the time the exam is ready to go (in a year), currently, there are (1) no standards of practice for “Artists in Healthcare;” (2) no listing of competencies or knowledge, skills, and abilities; (3) no academic program standards; (4) no GAAH-approved academic programs; and (5) no Code of Ethics.
  19. It was stated publically that the AIH-C is the first of two certifications that will be developed. The second certification is for “Managers of Artists in Healthcare.”
Questions Remain
  1. How can this certification be considered a “professional certification” and a “credential”? There is no requirement for training and the test is purporting to test a broad base of safety information; how could it be classified as a professional credential or an “artist in healthcare certification”
  2. When will an empirical job analysis be completed? How will the “jobs” be defined?
  3. What is the process for and timing of the unfinished documents such as the standards of practice and the code of ethics?
  4. What is the scope of practice and where is it published?
  5. The exam purports to measure working “effectively”; what is effective and how is effectiveness measured?
  6. How many people have taken the pilot exam?
  7. On one hand, Helen Currier stated that they did not want CATs (Creative Arts Therapists) to write exam items because CATs skills are beyond that of artists in healthcare; on the other hand, it was stated that there are two CATs on the exam committee to ensure that the scope of practice is contained. There is not now nor has there been any involvement from a board certified music therapist.
  8. Is GAAH developing training for the AIH-C?
  9. Are other academic institutions developing training for the AIH-C?
  10. We understood that the Certification Commission was going to be housed in a separate 501(c)(6) organization that had been established. We asked about this and GAAH was not clear with when that would occur.  As an organizational member of GAAH, we would like to know how money has been spent to develop AIH-C to date and by which entity?
  11. How many AIH-Cs do they anticipate granting over the next five years?
  12. What will be the cost of taking the exam?
  13. Will there be a grandfathering period?
  14. Will a certificant be required to take continuing education credits to renew his or her certification?
  15. Are AIH-C volunteers or paid? If they are paid, what is the salary range?
  16. Who supervises AIH-Cs?
  17. What are the plans for developing a certification program for “Managers of Artists in Healthcare.”
Next Steps in Process

AMTA Board members will be discussing the AIH-C at its upcoming mid-year board meeting from June 20-22, 2014, and determining an action plan.

  1. It is recommended that AMTA clearly specify that music therapy is not “under” an umbrella of “arts in healthcare” or “arts in medicine”; music therapy is certainly related to these areas, but not subsumed under them. We believe that GAAH’s materials and information should reflect a clearer understanding of music therapy as a separate and distinct profession and clinical treatment.
  2. It is recommended that AMTA report to NCCATA about our concerns about the AIH-C and request that GAAH establish an advisory group of official CATs associations-appointed representatives to speak for CATs in relation to GAAH projects and initiatives. Official association endorsement could be listed with appointed representatives.  Furthermore, it is important to identify the official designees. For example, “AMTA has designated Jill Doe as its representative on the GAAH committee.”
  3. It is recommended that AMTA educate its membership about the GAAH conference and pilot testing of the AIH-C.
  4. It is recommended that AMTA seek consultation from a healthcare certification expert to get answers to our questions regarding arts in healthcare certification and to advise us on possible next steps.
  5. It is recommended that AMTA identify best practices for arts in medicine or arts in healthcare programs that are directed by MT-BCs or CATs.
  6. It is recommended that AMTA and CBMT seek to educate healthcare and other employers about the differences between MT-BCs and AIH-Cs.
  7. It is essential that the scope of practice be determined for Artists in Healthcare Certificants in consultation with AMTA representatives. 

Source: in Healthcare Final (2).pdf

Retrieved 5/16/14




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