What is Joint Commission Certification and Why Does it Matter to Candidates?


Joint Commission certification is one of the most prestigious qualifications a healthcare staffing agency can achieve. Staffing agencies and healthcare facilities alike showcase this “stamp of approval” at every opportunity. But what does this have to do with you as a healthcare professional? It has everything to do you with you. Here’s why:

Where it All Started

Founded in 1951, the mission of the Joint Commission is to continuously improve healthcare in collaboration with its stakeholders. Responding to the growth in the healthcare staffing industry, it made sense in 2004 to launch a program geared specifically toward staffing agencies. Directed by Michele Sacco, the Health Care Staffing Services Certification Program seeks to provide consistent, accountable and competent workforce solutions.

Consider this: before the program began, there was minimal oversite in the healthcare staffing industry – it was up to the recruitment firms themselves to self-assess – and with more people entering the healthcare field every day, there was plenty of room for inconsistencies and ineptness within the staffing agency itself, and the individuals they sent into the workforce.

With Joint Commission now on the line, participating staffing agencies are held to high standards in terms of vetting candidates for experience and competency prior to deeming them a suitable fit for a travel position. These screening methods also raise the bar operationally for HR processes, credentialing and onboarding.

“Staffing companies must do their due diligence on candidates up front to ensure patients are really receiving someone qualified, credentialed and competent,” says Sacco. “Staffing agencies become certified through the Joint Commission, by having formalized processes and structure and these agencies allow us to validate their services and continually ask the question: ‘are we doing this the right way?’”

Being Joint Commission certified is a visual representation of a staffing agency’s commitment to serving its clients, its candidates and patients at the highest level by providing top notch clinicians, and pairing them with quality health systems.

“We choose to partner with and uphold the standards of the Joint commission to assure that our top-skilled clinicians meet hospitals that are committed to excellence, resulting in quality care for each patient and their family,” says Andrea Zveibil, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Cirrus Medical Staffing.

Value of Certification: Increasing Accountability and Quality

Without workforce consistency standards that span from hospitals to staffing agencies, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee candidate qualifications at one facility do not differ drastically from another. Being Joint Commission certified provides continuity of standard practice, as accredited hospitals are held to the same standards in quality staffing as the staffing agencies they work with. Therein lies the importance of the candidate vetting process.

What does this mean to you, the candidate? It means a lot of paperwork once a year! Kidding aside, it also means that your peers and leadership team you will be work alongside, have met the same quality standards that you have, which assures that you’re working in an environment that is dedicated to the highest quality of care.

This mindset, enforced by the Joint Commission standards, has tightened up the staffing industry. Rather than intimidate, this should reassure candidates that their recruiter is not hiring unsuitable individuals into healthcare positions. Even though the staffing firm itself is not delivering healthcare to the patient directly, their ultimate consumer is always the patient. That’s why recruitment firms have responsibility to ensure the best match possible – the more vetting and drill-down on candidates, the better for all parties involved.

“The idea is to get better,” says Sacco. “With consistent qualifications, staffing firms aren’t just being ‘picky’ by vetting candidates; they are measuring skill-sets and placing capable clinicians into hospitals.”

The Benefits of Certification: A Broader Job Pool and Streamlined Processes

The Joint Commission’s top priority is always patient safety. By becoming certified, staffing agencies are collectively raising the bar in supplemental staffing and the industry as a whole. They believe that in order to achieve quality, integrity and credibility, an outside audit is essential.

Here’s where the benefits of certification spills over the candidates in a big way: a wider pool of jobs is instantly opened up to you.

More than half of hospitals who staff temporary employees use *Managed Service Providers (MSP) or **Vendor Management Systems (VMS) to list their open healthcare positions. In order to partner with a MSP or VMS service for their hiring needs, agencies must be (you guessed it) Joint Commission certified.

What does that mean for healthcare professionals working with uncertified healthcare staffing agencies?  It means these agencies cannot provide candidates access to the thousands of job opportunities listed through MSPs and VMSs. Opportunities that could offer higher income, more flexibility, a more desirable location…the list goes on.

Other benefits provided to candidates working with Joint Commission certified staffing agencies include streamlined credentialing, universal orientation and seamless contracts. When a traveler selects a Joint Commission certified staffing agency, they know they will be credentialed and cleared with ease for each new assignment.  Universal orientation provides travelers consistent training from facility to facility. Lastly, travelers can be rest-assured that their contract turnaround time is quick and legally compliant.

Seeing the trend? This regularity of standards, monitored by the Joint Commission, takes into consideration state laws and hospital regulations in order to make the healthcare industry stronger.

There is no room for mediocrity in healthcare

Joint Commission accreditation started as simply a seal of approval to ensure that organizations were handling credentialing effectively and accurately. But its influence has grown, becoming an expected measure for hospitals and healthcare staffing agencies.

Zveibil says, “The benefit [to candidates] of working with an organization that is ‘above board’ is important, especially with such a high demand for healthcare professionals. Our company’s Joint Commission certification provides critical alignment between us, the hospitals we work with, and the candidates.”

The Joint Commission’s purpose is not to leave a “report card” according to Sacco, but to provide solutions and learning opportunities to hospitals and healthcare staffing agencies. “Improving the workforce ultimately improves quality care delivered to the patients,” she says. “Quality is never a bad thing, and choosing not to be certified opens up staffing agencies for countless things to go wrong.”

It’s no secret that some of the main issues in healthcare are overuse, misuse and waste. Hospitals and staffing agencies are doing their part by voluntarily embracing the recognized efficiencies and guidance of the Joint Commission, thus channeling great clinicians into the field. “There is no room for mediocrity in healthcare,” says Sacco. Indeed.


* Managed Service Provider (MSP) – provides both systems and account management live support to hospitals using a holistic approach that includes invoicing, credentialing, accountability and fill rate.

** Vendor Management System (VMS) – a computer system that is provided for a hospital. There is no account management or live support, and a hospital’s team trains themselves on how to use the system, which provides avenues of listing their personnel needs.

For more information about Cirrus Medical Staffing, a Joint Commission certified staffing agency, and to gain access to our thousands of temporary healthcare positions, contact a recruiter!