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.
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 a MPH, only the PhD would be listed in your title. However, if your 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 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®/MCHES® 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 should be displayed in your title, as your CHES® certification is no longer active.
The preferred order for display of credentials is:
- Highest earned degree
- 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.