The Ideal Credentialing Standards (ICS) provides guidance to healthcare organizations on the primary-sourced essential data elements necessary to initially credential practitioners.  The ICS identifies 13 essential criteria for credentialing an initial-practitioner applicant and provides red flag and primary-source examples for each criterion.

By identifying and focusing the credentialing process on these 13 criteria, organizations can make their credentialing processes more streamlined and effective. Each healthcare organization should establish specific qualifications for medical-staff membership and/or clinical privileges that reflect practitioner competency for an initial applicant. Organizations should also incorporate the ICS’ 13 criteria into their rules and regulations, credentialing policies and procedures, and other governance documents to ensure that their credentialing processes are objective, systematic, and without discrimination or bias.

The ICS was initially published in 2014 and revised in 2019 and 2024.

2024 Revision

  • Updated guidance for initial-practitioner credentialing as it relates to the traditional medical staff, as well as telehealth and locum tenens practitioners.
  • Language and policies that support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Impact Wellbeing™  campaign, which promotes practitioner wellness and burnout prevention.
    • Vetted language that organizations can use to inquire about a practitioner’s health status.
    • Language approved by the American Medical Association and the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes' Foundation.
  • Guidance for internet background checks and social media searches.

“Since its launch in 2014, the ICS has helped organizations achieve the gold standard for practitioner credentialing protocols. The 2024 ICS places greater considerations for a practitioner’s health status, providing language to help organizations navigate health-status questions.” - Lisa Goodwin, MBA, CPCS, CPMSM, 2024 NAMSS President

“The AMA deeply appreciates and commends NAMSS for its national leadership and commitment to supporting physicians’ health and wellness through removing stigmatizing questions about past treatment of mental health and substance use disorders from the NAMSS credentialing standards. The next step is for all hospitals and health systems to review their own credentialing questions and policies to ensure they are consistent with NAMSS national best practices. The AMA and Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes' Foundation stand ready to work with every hospital and health system in the nation to update their credentialing applications to ensure they support physicians' and all health care professionals' health and wellbeing." - Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH, AMA President

“Despite burnout and stress, healthcare workers are not seeking mental health care for fear of losing their jobs due to broad and invasive credentialing application questions. We applaud NAMSS for taking a critical step to remove this barrier and protect the wellbeing of our healthcare workforce.” - Corey Feist, JD, MBA, co-founder and CEO of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation

“We are excited to see NAMSS take this important step to address a substantial barrier to the wellbeing of credentialed healthcare workers through the revised ICS. Making systems-wide improvements is the best way to promote professional wellbeing, and steps like these lay the foundation for a thriving healthcare workforce.” -  John Howard, MD, Director of NIOSH

Read more about the ICS revision on Gateway.