What tools and resources are available to healthcare workers looking to gain more knowledge and experience that can help them serve their employers and patients? Certification is a great place to start. A variety of healthcare professionals benefit from CHES®/MCHES® certification.
We sat down with Kevin Sloss, BS, RMA(AMT), MHA(c), 2020 CHES® candidate, and health educator and patient care coordinator for Lung Cancer Screening at the University of Chicago Medicine. Kevin is passionate about promoting health literacy and empowering patients to be a part of the care team and working with clinicians, administrators and institutions to build this capacity, one of the many reasons he chose to pursue certification. You can follow Kevin on Instagram and Twitter @SavingSloss.
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My path into healthcare and health promotion started in high school with mission trips to the Appalachian Mountains where I learned about the lack of access to primary care in the area and the prevalence of hepatitis, poor dental hygiene, low access to healthy foods, and other health concerns. These were similar disparities that mirrored certain areas of my own city, Chicago. I attended the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and completed my Bachelors in Community Health with concentrations in Health Education and Promotion, and Health Administration and Planning.
From there I decided I wanted to take a more active role in patient engagement. I furthered my education by becoming a Registered Medical Assistant, and currently completing my Masters of Health Administration Leadership, working on my prerequisites for nursing and preparing to take the CHES® exam. Currently, I am the Patient Care Coordinator for Lung Cancer Screening at the University of Chicago Medicine, and I love it!
READ MORE: The Value of Health Education Credentialing
As a black man, I was drawn to the field of health promotion, because I knew it would help me make an impact on communities that I belonged to. Especially those that were dying at alarmingly high rates due to preventable chronic illnesses. In undergrad, I initially started off in Integrative Biology going the pre-med pathway.
I soon found that health care was complex, and there were a lot of gaps in clinical care that required others to act as a bridge, helping patient populations not only continue their care, but help them have a voice in the decision making process of what was necessary for them. I am very passionate about promoting health literacy and empowering patients to be a part of the care team, and working with clinicians, administrators and institutions to build this capacity. I believe this is the best way to decrease preventable illnesses and preventable hospitalizations.
My goals include becoming a Clinical Nurse Leader(CNL), partnering with local health systems on a micro and/or macro level to promote health education, health literacy and patient empowerment. This really excites me, because I know that so many communities have ideas on how to achieve health equity, but don’t feel like they have a seat at the table. I want to work with them to develop strategies informed with clinical knowledge to reduce the risk or better manage chronic illnesses.
Covid-19 has been an interesting time. As a health educator, I am currently working with my organization to develop utilization strategies that allow us to best ensure that our Lung Cancer Screening patients are still met with high quality care, decreasing their risk of contracting Covid-19. I am also encouraging our patients to use our hospitals telephonic resources for smoking cessation, to not only reduce their risk of lung cancer, but also to decrease their risk of Covid-19. What better way to protect your lungs in a respiratory pandemic, than to quit smoking?
Lung Cancer is cancer of your lungs. 80% to 90% of lung cancers are related to tobacco usage. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, for both men and women. Unfortunately, many patients don’t get screened for Lung Cancer due to a variety of reasons. But my organization is at the forefront of changing that narrative! Go University of Chicago!
Lung Cancer Screening is a preventive exam that uses a Low-Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) scan that allows an image of a patient's lung to be taken with the lowest dosage of radiation. Screening helps to catch lung cancer in its early stages or before it becomes cancerous. Before getting scanned, patients are required to have a shared decision making conversation with their healthcare provider to determine eligibility and risk. This is my favorite part! Patients are educated and a part of the care decision.
As the patient care coordinator I assist in patient engagement, coordination of scans, exam eligibility, patient follow up and data management. My days are often filled with ensuring that patients' needs are met from various aspects.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends this screening for 55-80 year olds with a smoking history of 30 pack years. This exam is completed annually, for those who have quit smoking or currently smoking. Screening will be discontinued when a patient has not smoked for 15 years. Exams are covered once per year by Medicare Part B for eligible patients.
Patients are encouraged with other counseling and interventions to prevent tobacco related use or tobacco-caused disease. For more information, please use these recommended links to learn more about Lung Cancer Screening:
Are you seeking a fulfilling career that helps you make a difference in the world? Do you desire a way to make an impact on your community? Health education specialists are essential to our world, especially in times of crisis. As we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, health education specialists are particularly important when we face a public health crisis.
Are you interested in becoming a public health educator? Consider CHES® certification. Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES®) are skilled in a variety of components of public and private health education responsibilities. Becoming a CHES® or MCHES® greatly increases your chances of finding employment in both public and private sectors. To learn more about the advantages of CHES® certification, click here.
How to Become a Health Education Specialist
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