In higher education, we often hear questions along the lines of “why am I paying so much money for this piece of paper?” Education can be really expensive…we get that! Many of us here are still in debt from funding ours. To be fair, earning a degree, certificate, or credential is about a whole lot more than getting a piece of paper that shows you did something hard, but that’s not really a topic we can tackle in one post. So, let’s rein it in and focus on the stuff people do after graduation. You may ask yourself, after earning your degree, why you should dedicate time and money to add further credentials or join professional societies? Here are five good reasons:
It’s good to be part of a group, especially in the scary realm of career building. Networking, professional advocacy, and members-only benefits/resources are just a few of the perks associated with professional society membership and/or certification. Membership in groups also gives others (both members and non-members) important clues about who you are as a professional, which is where the next point comes in…
Wear the badge.
It’s simple: credentials and designations carry meaning, inside and out of the profession. You knew that when you decided to earn your master’s or bachelor’s degree. Most credentials speak to specific qualifications within a profession and are substantiated by the hoops a professional must jump through to earn them.
When’s the last time you read a lengthy scholarly article, conducted research, or went to a workshop in your field just for fun? Maybe not that long ago, if you’re really geeked about your profession (keep it up!) But seriously, we all need incentives to dedicate time and energy to learning something new. Credentialing agencies typically require continuing education via things like training, conferences, creative work, and independent study for certificate/credential maintenance. That’s a built-in incentive to do something you really should be doing anyway: keeping current in your field.
Get some direction.
Just because you’ve picked a major, or even earned your degree, doesn’t mean you know what you want to be when you grow up. Professional organizations can give you some insight into your field by providing reliable information and opportunities to learn from people who have worked in the profession for a long time. And that brings us to our last point…
Believe it or not, there are others in your field who want to see you succeed—find them and let them help you. Of course, one of your primary resources as a student or alum is your faculty—they are your number one fans! In addition to faculty mentors, seek out the people who are doing what you dream of doing, and find out how they got there. A great place to find them is around the watering hole(s) of your field: professional societies and organizations.
Here is a deeply abbreviated list of some of the organizations and credentialing agencies that might interest PHHS students, alumni and friends:
Public Health, Health Care Administration, and Health Education
American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) – ACHE.org
Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) – SOPHE.org
American Public Health Association (APHA) –APHA.org
Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology
American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) –ASCP.org
Hint: Regional chapters are great too, especially if you want to connect with professionals in your geographical area!