I was recently on the phone with 2 different client hospitals. One in the northeast, one in the midwest. Both are in need of contract Senior Project Managers for 6 month+ efforts, and both have very specific project leadership needs their existing teams can't meet. (Incidentally in both cases, this is due to not having enough full-time staff.)
In both cases, when asked by me, each hiring manager said they do not need PMI-certified technical Project Managers. One's explanation was something to the effect of, "I don't think it matters. Many of my best PM's are not PMP-certified, and the one on staff whose certification I helped subsidize was the least effective PM here before and after her certification." The other said, "It's fine if they've got it but I have to have someone experienced with some advanced IT issues related to new construction, and I want someone who's a rock star technically but also has a hospital IT background."
Does certification matter for healthcare project managers? The answer consistently from clients is both, it depends, and, usually not. I have not yet encountered a hospital interested in bringing in someone with strong IT project management skills but no healthcare experience. I have run into a few who are open if the Project Management Office (PMO) sits inside of the IT organization, since these leaders consider all projects in the PMO to be technical in nature.
For organizations where the PMO is enterprise-wide (meaning not relegated to IT but encompassing the entire organization), there seems to be little interest from hospitals to consider project management leadership from individuals unless they hold past healthcare experience. That is probably as it should be, since there are credibility and past experience issues at stake when the technical staff interacts with, and requires help from, the clinical staff. Particularly when clinical systems are being added, upgraded, or changed.
If you've got an opinion, let's hear it.