A Job Analysis is a list of tasks essential to the performance of a profession. The list defines the scope of practice for that profession, according to a consensus of the practitioners. The list of tasks is not meant to limit the job performed by those professionals, but to identify the core skills needed for entry into the profession. The purpose of the Job Analysis, for a certification program, is to determine the knowledge and skills that must be demonstrated by those seeking certification.
The skill list is generally created by a focus group of those considered experts in the field, and then the items are rated thorough a survey of a larger number of practicing professionals that reflect the diversity of the identified population. Items that are rated as important or frequently performed by the majority of survey participants are included on the final list of required skills, and the tasks that are rated lower are not included. That final list becomes the blueprint for test development. Following this process ensures that the test, or assessment instrument, accurately reflects the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job. The examinations are intended to measure not only the ability to perform skills, but also the knowledge base behind each skill and the abilities necessary to perform the job competently.
A Job Analysis is required, and standards are set for the administration and evaluation of the survey, by the National Commission on Certifying Agencies, the agency that accredits the CPM credential. NARM seeks appropriate guidance from both our professional testing company and from the NCCA standards.
When a certification program is being initially created, the survey is sent to a group of individuals identified by various methods as being practitioners in the field. Subsequent surveys are generally sent only to those who are already certified. The purpose of subsequent surveys is to confirm that the initial knowledge, skills, and abilities are still relevant and necessary, to discard any that have become obsolete, and identify any new components that reflect current practice.
The first NARM Job Analysis was undertaken in 1995 by NARM in conjunction with the National Assessment Institute. The survey instrument was developed by the participants of the Certification Task Force meetings, and included every possible midwifery skill and knowledge aspect for out-of-hospital practice. The survey was mailed to 3000 midwives practicing in predominately out-of-hospital settings who were identified by state midwifery organizations, midwifery magazine mailing lists, and the Midwives Alliance of North America membership list. This extensive survey, which took an average of 12 hours to complete, was returned by 850 midwives. One-third of the respondents were Certified Nurse-Midwives and two-thirds were direct-entry midwives. The results of this survey formed the basis for the next version of the NARM Examination.
In accordance with state of the art psychometric procedures, the Job Analysis was repeated in an updated form in 2001. This project was overseen by National Measurement and Evaluation. The surveys were sent to all current 674 CPMs, and were delivered to 625. Of those, 365 returned the surveys (a 58% return rate). 91% had a homebirth practice, 6 % worked in birth centers, and 1% worked in hospitals. 2% did not identify their practice site. 71% were apprentice-trained, and 21% had attended some type of formal midwifery school in addition to a clinical apprenticeship. Less than 1% had attended a nurse midwifery program and less than 1% had attended medical school. The Job Analysis resulted in minor changes in the test specifications. The lack of major changes was a significant sign that the job of the midwife is something that does not change rapidly. This evidence allowed more prolonged periods between Job Analyses.
The third NARM Job Analysis was begun with focus groups in 2008, sent as a web-based survey to all CPMs in 2009, and issued as an analysis report in 2010. NARM’s Testing Company, Personnel Research Center, guides all of the psychometric aspects of the CPM process, including the Job Analysis. The survey was sent to 1099 certificants (those with current certification as of 2008 and whose contact information was current) and responded to by 471, a response rate of 42%. Respondents represented 44 states. 45% were trained through apprenticeship, 33% through a MEAC-accredited program, 12% through a non-accredited program, and 7% were self-taught. 2.4% were nurse-midwives. 36% had attended some college, 37% were college graduates, 8% were nurses, 7% had master’s degrees, and 1.5% had PhDs. The survey did result in an updated task list, but no major changes were identified in the overall job of the Certified Professional Midwife.
NARM is committed to performing a Job Analysis every 6-8 years so that the CPM credential accurately reflects the job skills and knowledge base for the competent practice of midwifery in out-of-hospital settings.