Sunday, June 6, 2010

They are sometimes nothing more

Gone are the days (I hope) when young women went off to college to get their MRS degree.  Or Mrs. degree if you prefer.  Credit it to the Women's movement of the 60's and 70's or just reality of life, but young women today seem pretty self-sufficient and career minded.

When I graduated from college, I had the initials BSMT after my name.  A few months later, I added ASCP.  The initials meant that I had a Bachelor of Science degree, with a specialty in Medical Technology, and had completed a 12-month internship at an accredited hospital.  After I passed a rather rigorous exam covering all aspects of laboratory medicine, I received my ASCP initials from the American Society for Clinical Pathology.  I could now call myself a Registered Medical Technologist.

It was a pretty big deal because I could now work in any medical facility in the country (except California who made you pass a state exam in addition).  Without the certification, I was just a lab tech doing more simplified tasks.  With the certification, I was working in a teaching hospital, eventually instructing interns in clinical enzymology.

After a ten-year career, I left work to start my family.  Nine years later I started back to college to get an MBA in finance and business economics.  I graduated and added MBA, and BGS (Beta Gamma Sigma is the Business School equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa).

Once in the municipal and financial field, initials seemed to rule the day.  Everyone wanted to be a 'certified' something.  Of course, we all have heard of CPAs, who must have a Bachelor's degree in accounting, experience in public or governmental accounting, and pass a state exam.  They also must continue their professional education each year in order to maintain their license.

The Association of Finance Professionals offers a CCM and CTP, both of which require rigorous examinations and continuing education.  The Government Finance Officers offer a CPFO, requiring a degree, experience, and five exams.  The Association of Government Accountants offers a CGFM, requiring a degree, experience, exams and continuing education (I have the CGFM).  The Association of Public Treasurers (APT) offers a CPFA that does not require a degree or an exam. 

Let me make it clear that I do have a gripe with the APT.  My MBA was worth five points, the same number of points I received if I went to one of their annual conferences.  Huh?  Also, when I applied, they initially refused to honor my 40 hours of study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Advanced Government Finance Institute.  I appealed and accused them of only wanting my money for attending their events and not being concerned with my knowledge.  I won the certification.  Big deal.

My point of this rant is that sometimes initials are just that.  The MRS degree of the 50's basically said you were a stay-at-home mom.  Don't get me wrong.  My years at home were just as rigorous, if not more so, as my years at work.  But the 'degree' only required a marriage license. 

In our quest to put initials after our name in the finance profession, we have varying degrees of qualifications to get there.  If it is nothing more than being around a long time and showing up when need be, then all of us seniors should all put the initials CLS after our name.  That's Certified Life Survivor, unless you have a better suggestion.

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