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A first-of-its-kind professional certification program for finance and investment professionals is being launched to meet the expected increased demand for an industry on the cusp of accepting its largest older adult population in history.

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care will welcome its first cohort into the Fundamentals of Underwriting Senior Housing and Care certificate program in mid-October. The online, self-paced program, offered through NIC Academy, is intended to provide a more efficient and comprehensive understanding of investments and finance in the industry, which traditionally delivers those lessons on the job, according to NIC President and CEO Ray Braun. 

The certificate program will be geared toward individuals who are newer to the industry or right out of college, or toward existing employees in need of upskilling or reskilling. Braun said that the program complements NIC Academy’s boot camps — eight-hour, immersive, in-person experiences on a specific topic — and online special topics courses for those already working in the industry.

The goal, over time, he said, is to have the certified senior housing investment professional, or CSHIP, designation seen as a credential of professional qualification. He told McKnight’s Senior Living that he’s “cautiously optimistic” about participation after much initial interest in the concept.

“Our boot camps we’ve been holding for three years? Every single one sells out,” Braun said. “That, to us, was a strong indicator of the demand for education and training.”

Participants in the first cohort — expected to be 30 to 60 individuals — will have 90 days to complete the six courses to achieve CSHIP designation. The courses will cover operations fundamentals, market analysis, capital markets and transactions. A capstone project will include a case study that will integrate insights and information culled from previous courses to encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Led by ‘industry icons’

Instructors, Braun said, include “industry icons” who are highly regarded in the industry and are experts in seniors housing and care:

  • Kurt Read, principal at private equity firm RSF Partners and NIC board member;
  • Randy Richardson, former CEO and president, and now strategic adviser, for Vi Living;
  • Kevin McMeen, co-founder of speciality finance firm MidCap Financial;
  • Colleen H. Blumenthal, CEO and partner at healthcare and seniors housing valuation and advisory services firm HealthTrust;
  • Allen Lynch, senior counsel for global law firm Nixon Peabody; and
  • Ryan Chase, executive managing director and head of market strategy for brokerage firm Blueprint Healthcare Real Estate Advisors.

“What we wanted were people with experience in the industry to discuss practical issues that come up with students,” Braun said, emphasizing that the program is professional training, not academic.

The program, he added, is intended to have a “shelf life” of three years for the initial instructors and curriculum, with Levels 2 and 3 of the certificate program added over time to reflect beginner, intermediate and advanced certificate programs. NIC also plans to add special topics courses.

“We’ll be continuously developing curriculum over the next year,” Braun said. “As students finish up the first level certificate, we hope to have the second level ready to participate in.”

The goal is to launch four cohorts a year, with one group starting every 90 days. The first cohort, however, will remain open until March to allow NIC to receive extensive feedback and improve the product. The intent is to launch the second cohort on April 1.