Long-term care facilities and other institutions and suppliers that receive reimbursement from Medicaid and Medicare must undergo certification by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as mandated by the Social Security Act. Certified surveyors are the individuals who perform certification evaluation of companies and facilities for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. To work as a surveyor, candidates must complete certification through the Surveyor Minimum Qualifications Test, or SMQT
The Social Security Act places the responsibility for surveying and certifying facilities on each state's surveying agency. Typically, states' departments of health serve as their surveying agencies. Each state is responsible for establishing a program for SMQT certification as a part of its surveying programs. Although eligibility requirements for SMQT certification vary slightly from state to state, the minimum requirements for each state's program are detailed in the Social Security Act.
All states must mandate training for SMQT certification, as required by the Social Security Act. The training must begin with online educational modules that cover basics of conducting Medicaid and Medicare surveying. Candidates complete these modules independently to qualify for the next phase of training, which is classroom-based study. The classroom course can consist of a maximum of eight students. After receiving lectures and instructions in the classroom, SMQT candidates must participate in one mock survey at a long-term care facility or other institution. States may establish additional training requirements at their discretion.
All candidates for SMQT certification must have at least two years of experience working in long-term care surveying experience, according to additional terms of the Social Security Act. Typically, this experience comes from working for a long-term care facility in some capacity related to its annual surveying, such as serving as an administrator. States may require additional years of working experience. Some states also require candidates for SMQT certification to pass a criminal background check, which usually involves professional fingerprinting.
All states must include passing the national SMQT certification examination among their requirements for credentialing. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services develop the exam, which is administered by Pearson Vue professional testing centers. SMQT certification candidates complete the examination using a computer at a Pearson Vue center. Pearson operates at least one testing center in every state and offers testing on-demand, meaning that SMQT candidates may schedule their test during any of the center's regular business hours, year-round. The examination is multiple-choice. Candidates may use the State Operations Manual given to them in their training as reference material during the exam.