Compliance Director – Education, Certification & Daily Responsibilities

Every area needs a set of rules.

Regulations in the industry ensure an impartial and safe field for all participants.

But these regulations are far more complex than regular sports rules.

Therefore, organizations that operate in regulated areas hire professionals that ensure adherence to regulations.

Imagine if the federal government has passed an extensive set of regulations to help protect patient data that healthcare facilities collect.

Physically, these new regulations would appear to be nothing more than hundreds or thousands of pages of dense legalese.

But they can come with extensive consequences.

If a facility fails to adhere to these regulations, they can end up with heavy fines, costly lawsuits, and even have their licenses revoked.

The situations get even more complicated with these regulated entities being large and unwieldy and comprising multiple moving parts.

That’s why they need compliance directors.

They are responsible for interpreting the new regulations and putting them in simple and clear terms for the senior management of the organizations.

Additionally, compliance directors have to create and implement internal policies that ensure that the organizations meet new external requirements.

Finally, these professionals are in charge of training staff on these regulations and monitoring the efficiency of those.

Even one mistake can be grave.

This is a tremendous job and requires connecting various departments that are not used to working in harmony.

For example, compliance directors at hospitals have to get care providers, insurance partners, financial team, low-level staff, senior management, and the IT department on the same page.

This requires both an expert knowledge of regulations and outstanding communication skills.

However, according to Salary.com, an employment data aggregator, these duties come with attractive compensation.

Healthcare compliance directors earn more than $138,000 per year on average.

This profession is not something anybody could do.

But it changes the way huge entities conduct their business in a way that previously unprotected become protected.

Work Environment of Compliance Directors

Compliance directors can obtain a specialty in one of many regulated sectors (e.g., public unities, banking, import/export, etc).

However, many choose to work for the largest employer in the country, healthcare.

In this industry, compliance directors can work in a wide array of organizations, from hospital networks and insurance providers to pharmaceutical companies.

In every case, they are likely to call an office home base.

But their work requires that they are present in and familiar with each department in their organization.

Clinical Team

Some parts of a large organization, especially in healthcare, can be isolated from each other.

But compliance directors have to move between these departments and get everyone to carry on at the same pace.

The work of compliance directors requires them to coordinate the actions of care providers, IT workers, financial professionals, and outside parties, such as regulatory bodies or insurance companies.

Knowing how to listen to each of those departments and develop and convey policies in a way that every department can implement them successfully are the principal tasks of a compliance director.

Typical Daily Responsibilities of Compliance Directors

Compliance directors’ duties can be categorized into two tiers: internal and external compliance duties.

Internal compliance involves making sure that the organization is complying with its own policies and systems of control.

The policies are designed to adhere to external regulations and rules.

External compliance tasks involve interpreting regulations imposed by third parties.

It implies studying new regulations implemented by the government and creating policies that can be imposed in the organization to help it follow the external regulations.

This part of the job comes on phases according to the political tides.

Some common duties of a compliance director include:

  • Running internal audits that check for adherence with external policies.
  • Writing clear summarization reports of new external regulations.
  • Liaising with lobbyist groups and regulatory bodies.
  • Designing and implementing internal policies to meet external regulations.
  • Educating both senior management and lower-level staff on compliance issues.

Everyday duties of a compliance director are further defined by the facility they work at and the specialty of compliance they chose.

Professionals specializing in patient privacy may work closely together with data security and IT personnel while those specializing in payments focus on coordination with insurance providers and billing.

Required Skills & Knowledge

Although the daily activities of a compliance director are based on their specialty and employer, some skills and traits a crucial for this profession.

  • Communicative.
    Compliance directors have to be fluent in many corporate languages.
    Their work requires them to be able to understand both dense legal texts and translate them to the staff and management of an organization that can be implemented in the culture of the facility.
  • Persistent.
    Compliance is a constantly changing area.
    To stay updated on new developments and how they influence the organization, compliance directors need to be committed to professional development and proactive research.
    There are no uncertainties in compliance and directors have to preserve clear and definite answers in every case.
  • Ethical.
    Doing the right thing despite its inconvenience is at the core of compliance.
    Compliance directors don’t have favorites.
    They self-report any policy breaches and develop the environment where others do so as well, whether the breach was intentional or not.

Soft skills are essential, but besides those, compliance directors need solid fundamental knowledge.

While some directors only hold a bachelor’s degree, it’s getting more common for employers to require a graduate level of education.

With an MHA or MBA, compliance directors can improve the foundational understanding of regulations and gain opportunities for sub-specialization in essential areas.

Compliance directors don’t stop their education at the master’s level.

Professional development and continuing education are vital in such a dynamic field as regulatory compliance.

Whether going for a professional certification from organizations or by attending state or national conferences, successful compliance directors maintain their commitment to lifelong education to stay at the top of their field.

Certification for Compliance Directors

While certifications aren’t a legal requirement for the profession, many directors obtain them to establish their expertise with peers and employers.

The Compliance Certification Board (CCB) is a part of the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) and provides top-notch industry certifications in three areas:

  • Healthcare compliance.
  • Healthcare privacy compliance.
  • Healthcare research compliance.

To earn the Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC) designation, applicants need one year of experience in a full-time position in compliance within the last two years.

They also need 20 CEU, CCB-approved, and completed within the previous year.

Eligible applicants have to pass a 120-question exam that lasts for two hours to earn the certification.

Later, the holders of CHC must recertify every two years by completing 40 hours of CEU and paying a fee for renewal.

Two more professional certifications for compliance directors in healthcare are offered by the Health Ethics Trust (HET).

A Certified Compliance Professional (CCP) designation is designed for directors starting their career, and a Certified Compliance Executive (CCE) is for directors in the mid- and late-career stage.

To be eligible, applicants need a combination of educational achievements, work history, as well as letters of recommendation.

Then they have to pass an essay exam.

The renewal of the certification is required every three years by completing 40 professional education hours.

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