Credential inflation refers to a decline in value of earned degrees. It exists throughout many fields and is evident through job requirements that once required a lower degree or certificate that now necessitate an advanced degree. In healthcare professions, credential inflation is visible through the increase in entry-level degree requirements for several fields, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy, and audiology. These professions once required a Bachelors degree to enter the field, then a Masters degree, and will soon require a Doctorate for entry-level practice, if not already a requisite. Providing the best and most ethical care to patients is the utmost importance to me and I wonder if credential inflation inhibits or promotes this endeavor. Credential inflation impacts education, yet more research is needed to objectively determine the extent this applies to healthcare practices rather than broad anecdotal theories. Current research indicates credential inflation leads to increased cost of education, decreased access to education, and a shortage of qualified instructors. Potential research methodology may include examining phenomenology through assessment of healthcare professionals’ lived experiences, differences of nurturing professional growth, analyzing application and admission criteria to allied health professional schools, and examine healthcare provider burnout. Conclusions predicted: poor returns on financial investments for clinical doctorates, decrease diversity among future providers, and nurturing professional growth among institutions will be paramount for facilitating innovative providers.
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