Credentialing Excellence in Health Education


How to Display Your CHES®/MCHES® Credential

The process of obtaining one’s CHES® or MCHES® certification is by no means an easy accomplishment. In addition to sitting for an arduous competency-based examination, the certification denotes years of university-level academic study and a commitment to professional competency through continuing education. Displaying your professional and academic credentials properly will serve to validate your personal expertise and give tangible recognition of professional achievements. In addition, patients, clients, or community members will feel more confident in the care they receive from a nationally certified provider. 

Judging from the manner in which credentials are often displayed in publications, communications, or social media, there may be some confusion out there as to show to display one’s credentials correctly, including academic degrees, licensures, and certifications.  It is important to understand what each credential means and how it should be displayed after a practitioner’s name.

Academic Degree

The decision of whether or not to include your academic degree in your title is a personal one.  The preferred method for the display of degrees is to list the highest academic degree only.  For example, if you earned both a PhD and an MPH, only the PhD would be listed in your title.  However, if you MPH is relevant to your current professional position, it is certainly acceptable to display both degrees.

State Licensure Titles

A state licensure credential is generally awarded based on the completion of a specific educational program and requires the passing of a licensure exam that includes other requirements by the issuing state, allowing the individual to practice in that state.  It is often required by states that an individual must use a licensure title when practicing, one example being for medical practice:  Nancy Thomas, BSN, RN.

Professional Certification

Professional certification credentials are awarded by a nationally recognized certifying body, usually accredited, such as the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), Inc. Certifications such as CHES® or MCHES® are indicative of knowledge, skills and competencies for a particular profession. Competencies for professional certifications have to be validated through a national role delineation or job task analysis, and can be entry-level, such as CHES®, or advanced-level, such as MCHES. The display of your CHES®/MCHE®S credential should be in capital letters always, with no periods.  If you have transitioned from the CHES® to the MCHES® certification, only the MCHES® initials are displayed in your title, as your CHES® certification is no longer active.

The preferred order for display of credentials is:

  • Highest earned degree
  • Licensure
  • State designations or requirements
  • National certifications
  • Awards and honors/other recognitions
CHES® and MCHES® Credentials are now trademarked

It is exciting to note that a trademark for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) and Master Certified (MCHES®) credentials has been officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  Certified individuals should adjust their titles and signature lines to reflect the recent changes to the designation.  The appropriate symbol to include immediately after the acronym is ® for a trademark officially registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office. You can easily copy and paste the official symbol here

Example of credential display:  Jane Smith, PhD, RN, MCHES®, FAAHE

Consistency in how Certified and Master-Certified Health Education Specialists identify themselves alleviates confusion and lends credibility to the profession of health education and promotion. Individuals who have earned their CHES® or MCHES® should feel a sense of responsibility to educate the public as well as colleagues about what they truly mean.  Remember that you worked very hard for your degree(s) and credentials, so make sure that you are displaying them properly on business cards, publications, and email signatures in order to receive the recognition you deserve.


National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM); Displaying Your Credentials Proudly and Properly; Kory Ward-Cook and Mina Larson, 2012.

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC); How to Display Your Credentials; 2013.

Posted by Jessica Wessner at Thursday, May 18, 2017 | 0 comments
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Dr. Helen P. Cleary: Leader, Visionary, Mentor

In Memory of Dr. Helen P. Cleary, MPH, D.Sc., CHES (1920-2016)
Written by: Alyson Taub, EdD, MCHES
Professor Emerita of Health Education, New York University
First Executive Director, NCHEC

Dr. Helen Cleary, the driving force in the establishment of the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC), died peacefully at home at the age of 96 on November 5, 2016.  Due to her important role in spearheading certification, she received the first CHES credential (CHES #1), and served as the founding chair of the NCHEC Board of Commissioners.

Born and raised in Brookline, MA, she lived in Norfolk, MA until her death.  From an early age, she demonstrated leadership and was a woman ahead of her time, earning a baccalaureate degree at Regis College in mathematics and graduate degrees in Public Health from Yale (MPH) and Harvard (Doctor of Science).  Her first job was as a teacher of mathematics and science. She enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served until 1965, retiring with the rank of Lt. Colonel.  Her early employment included the Lynn Tuberculosis and Health League, and the Norfolk County Tuberculosis Association.  After graduating with her public health degree, she worked as a health educator at the Boston Health Department, Rehabilitation Council of Metropolitan Boston, Massachusetts Association for the Blind (as its Executive Director), and Coordinator of Rhode Island’s Regional Medical Program. After two years as a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Center for Community Health and Medical Care, she completed her career in academia as an instructor of health education at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  Her employment gave her insights into the many aspects of health education (school health, community health, medical care, college/university).

Dr. Cleary was also a leader and volunteer in local voluntary and governmental agencies (Town of Norfolk, Worcester Visiting Nurse Association, Central Massachusetts Division of the American Health Association, Central Massachusetts Health Systems Agency).  Her professional activities included service as President of the New England Chapter of the Society for Public

Health Education (SOPHE), Governing Council representative of the American Public Health Association, and SOPHE President (1975). While traveling around the country as SOPHE President, Dr. Cleary became aware of the need for a clearer definition of what health educators do in practice.  She encountered many who were unsure of their role and could not explain it to others.  To address this need, Dr. Cleary became the leader of a decade long effort serving as chairperson of the National Task Force on the Preparation and Practice of Health Educators.  The Task Force ultimately became NCHEC in 1988. She was tireless in keeping the Task Force on course, raising funds to support the effort, and inspiring others to volunteer their time.

Dr. Cleary was recognized by peers for her extraordinary leadership, vision, and being a role model, mentor, and friend to many.  The Association for the Advancement of Health Education awarded her its Presidential Citation.  Eta Sigma Gamma presented her with its Distinguished Service Award. SOPHE honored her as a Distinguished Fellow.  When talking about the CHES credential, she emphasized that “we took time to do it right.”  She always strived for excellence in her own work and expected nothing less from those working with her. 

On a personal note, Helen was a role model for me.  I was inspired by her passion for the profession, and her mission to promote it and the practice of health educators.  When we were making presentations to gain support for certification, we often joked about ducking the tomatoes from opponents in the audience. I remember fondly the many long hours the Task Force spent in hotel rooms around the country debating and drafting documents to establish NCHEC.  We didn’t have much funding so had to sneak food into the meeting rooms!  She was always on task, leading the way, and extremely resourceful.  I value the time that I was able to share with her.

A Celebration of Life will take place at her home on May 20, 2017 at 1 pm.

Posted by Jessica Wessner at Tuesday, May 9, 2017 | 4 comments
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The Spring 2017 Bulletin Has Arrived

In Case You Missed It!  Catch the Spring 2017 NCHEC News print bulletin here.
Posted by Jessica Wessner at Friday, April 21, 2017 | 0 comments
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CHES®/MCHES® Appreciation Breakfast Highlights SOPHE 2017

The 2nd Annual NCHEC Appreciation Breakfast for CHES® and MCHES® was held on March 30th during the 2017 SOPHE “Scaling New Heights” Conference in Denver, Colorado.  The event celebrated the ever-growing national community of certified individuals in an effort to enhance networking opportunities for the profession of health education and included a complimentary breakfast and giveaways for the near-150 CHES® and MCHES® registered.

The NCHEC Board of Commissioners Chair, Dr. Kerry Redican, opened the breakfast event with a summary of things-to-come for the organization and its certificants.  A change in exam administration to computer-based testing (CBT) will be implemented for the October 2018 CHES® and MCHES® examinations. CBT will offer many new benefits for candidates, including immediate pass/fail results, state-of-the-art facilities, and a wider range of exam times/dates.  Redican also covered upcoming changes to requirements for the documentation of the Continuing Competence of NCHEC-certified individuals, slated for 2019 implementation, as well as the increase in Continuing Education opportunities for CHES® and MCHES®.

Dr. Bethany Chaney and Dr. Kerry Redican at the breakfast

Dr. Beth Chaney, NCHEC Marketing Committee Chair, was also present to discuss past and current marketing endeavors for the professional promotion of CHES® and MCHES®.  2016 marked the inaugural year for the NCHEC Service and Leadership award, as well as the second year for the CHES/MCHES Essay Contest.  In addition, the acronyms for CHES® and MCHES® were officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, providing an additional layer of security and value for certificant holders.

In addition, Dr. Chaney reported on the NCHEC Ambassador program, which was launched in the 2016-2017 calendar year, and facilitates communication between health education programs and NCHEC.  Ambassadors will work to promote the CHES® and MCHES® credentials at their respective campuses using marketing and presentation materials provided by NCHEC.  NCHEC is also in the process of forming a reimbursement committee to monitor and advocate for the third-party reimbursement of certified health education specialists’ services.

During the SOPHE 2017 conference, the NCHEC Marketing team conducted video interviews for a new YouTube promotion for the upcoming year.  Interviewees from varying job settings across the country were recorded at the Denver convention by a superb production team from Speak Creative, NCHEC’s digital marketing agency. Several short videos will be produced promoting the value of CHES® and MCHES® credentials.  Footage of the Appreciation Breakfast will be included in the videos as well.

NCHEC would like to extend a warm thank-you to all those who were able to attend the 2nd Annual Appreciation Breakfast for CHES® and MCHES®.  There were many new faces this year, and the event was an impressive opportunity to network and share experiences within our expanding health education and promotion community.  For more information about our certifications, as well as new industry announcements, visit

Posted by Jessica Wessner at Thursday, April 13, 2017 | 0 comments
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NCHEC Announces Trademark Registration for CHES® and MCHES® Certifications

Recent News

A trademark for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) and Master Certified (MCHES®) credentials has been officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  The CHES® and MCHES® certifications have a long history in the field of health education and promotion, beginning with the first CHES® certification in October of 1989. As of 2017, there are over 13,000 CHES® and MCHES® certified individuals practicing across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and expanded international locations. The familiar acronyms for the credentials obtained through the NCHEC organization have been registered to protect the designations and the certificants who have earned them from copyright infringement.

How to Display Your Credential

Those who are CHES® and MCHES® certified should adjust their titles and signature lines to reflect the recent changes to the designation.  The appropriate symbol to include immediately after the acronym is ® for a trademark officially registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office. You can easily copy and paste the official symbol here

Example:  Jane Smith, MPH, MCHES® 

For additional questions about the new trademark, please contact the NCHEC Deputy Executive Director Melissa Opp, MPH, MCHES®, at

Posted by Jessica Wessner at Monday, March 27, 2017 | 0 comments
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Inaugural Outstanding Service and Leadership Award Winners Annouced

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) announced the results of its inaugural Outstanding Service and Leadership Award in recognition of one individual and one organization displaying exemplary commitment to the advancement of the profession and of the CHES and MCHES credentials.  The NCHEC Service and Leadership Award was instituted to highlight the implementation of programs and policies that promote the role of certified health education specialists within communities, populations, and/or organizational structure.

Dr. James F. McKenzie, PhD, MCHES, was selected as the award winner in the individual category.  Dr. McKenzie has a distinguished record as a valued leader in the field of health education and promotion, with over 44 years of teaching experience, as well as many years of devotion to the development and improvement of the CHES and MCHES examinations through dedicated board service at NCHEC. He has served on NCHEC’s Division Board for Certification of Health Education Specialists (DBCHES), the NCHEC Board of Commissioners (BOC), as well as various job analysis task forces.  In addition, Dr. McKenzie was instrumental in leading the process of exam creation for NCHEC’s advanced-level credential, the Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES).

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was chosen as the  award winner in the organizational category.  The MD Anderson Patient Education Department is responsible for the education of over 100,000 patients per year, utilizing documents, videos, and decision-aids that are developed by Health Education Specialists who are CHES or MCHES-certified.  CHES and MCHES are utilized in a variety of settings within MD Anderson, and the certification of its employees is strongly encouraged.  The organization covers exam fees, annual certification fees, continuing education costs, and even bestows a “certification pay” in addition to base pay for the continued maintenance of the employee’s CHES or MCHES certification.  By utilizing CHES and MCHES-certified individuals to deliver such programs, MD Anderson strengthens the message to patients and the community, and highlights the organizational belief that well-prepared, credentialed employees make a valuable difference in patient care.

The inaugural year of the award was a great success, and provided an opportunity to highlight the outstanding achievements made by Dr. McKenzie and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to others in the profession of health education and promotion.  NCHEC will be announcing the opening of nominations for the second Outstanding Service and Leadership Award later this summer. 

MD Anderson Photo: Bottom row left to right: Desiree Phillips, MCHES, Mekhala Garvin, CHES. 2nd row left to right: Karen Stepan, MCHES, Lenda Narcisse, CHES, Cassandra Harris, MCHES. 3rd row left to right: Jila Tanha, CHES, Jennifer Cofer, CHES, Lakeshia Brown, CHES. Back row left to right: Charnell Franklin, CHES, Jane Frank, MCHES, Kathy Jinkins, MCHES, Amaka Agbor, CHES.

Posted by Jessica Wessner at Friday, March 17, 2017 | 0 comments
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