April 21, 2020
Dear NCHEC Stakeholders,
On behalf of the Board of Commissioners and staff of the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC), our thoughts are with those directly and indirectly affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. and around the globe. COVID-19 has impacted all businesses including NCHEC and at the same time has propelled the importance of public health into the spotlight. We can all be proud of the health education specialists who serve as “essential personnel” in the fight against this pandemic. They have assumed critical roles in the identification, control, assurance of the needs of individuals and groups, communication, and advocacy for public protection measures, as well as the support of other important health education and health behavior measures during these difficult times.
As we continue to monitor the status of the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact on NCHEC's operations, we are working to keep the lines of communication open between NCHEC boards, staff, and all those impacted during this crisis. The NCHEC office remains open remotely and is fully staffed. We are dedicated to addressing questions and concerns regarding certification, and the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has on examination delivery, continuing education, renewals, recertification and more. The impact on these activities and NCHEC’s responses are described below.
CREDENTIALING EXAMINATION DELIVERY: As a non-profit health education credentialing organization, NCHEC continues to be committed to delivering the CHES® and MCHES® certification examinations to all registered candidates as soon as reasonable and safe from a public health perspective to do so. We are trying everything in our power to do so in a timely manner given the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is important to note that our testing vendor Prometric closed their test centers to prevent the spread of the virus. Prometric and NCHEC have not cancelled the April 2020 exam, but have postponed the testing window to comply with local, state, regional and federal mandates. At this point of time, we believe we can offer the NCHEC examinations as early as June 1st through June 30th, with alterations in processes to deliver the exams safely. Those individuals who were registered for the April exam were automatically transferred to the June administration and will be contacted regarding rescheduling exam appointments. Alternately, candidates may request to defer to the October 2020 exam cycle or future administrations within the next year, with transfer fees waived. While NCHEC remains committed to delivering the examinations, candidates that wish to withdrawal from the exam can do so. Questions from exam candidates can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAINTAINANCE OF CERTIFICATION/PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: The certified population of CHES®/MCHES® are, by nature, both resilient and creative. We have heard from many certified individuals that this outbreak has offered new opportunities to assist with initiatives such as coordinating health department outreach efforts, communicating the availability of testing services, assisting with the distribution of emergency supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, and many more. Stories of certified individuals addressing COVID-19 will be highlighted on our website and we encourage the submission of additional stories to email@example.com.
During our transition to a remote work environment, we want to thank the many certified individuals who have already paid their renewal or recertification online. NCHEC staff remain available to assist those certified individuals who are unable to pay fees due to unexpected job loss, income reduction or other COVID-19-related challenges.
While some scheduled conferences and programs offered by NCHEC designated providers have been postponed or cancelled, other providers have converted to virtual platforms. As always, CHES®/MCHES® are encouraged to visit the NCHEC Website to identify available programs for Continuing Education Contact Hours (CECH). We have heard from some certificants with concerns of additional COVID-19- related work duties affecting the ability to earn CECH credits in a timely fashion. NCHEC staff is committed to working with individuals if extended time periods are necessary to participate in professional development activities. Additionally, the mechanisms to document emergency response work and apply them towards some CECH credits are currently being developed and will be posted on the NCHEC website. Questions regarding recertification and continuing education can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org
PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION: Thank you to those universities who continue to prepare students for the NCHEC examinations and strongly encourage graduates to take the credentialing exam, as a reflection of the many years of academic preparation, which resulted in their eligibility for the nationally and internationally accredited certifications. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak most colleges and universities have closed campuses and have quickly switched to virtual classrooms. With this transition, some have altered grading to pass/fail instead of letter grades. For the spring 2020 semester, NCHEC will honor the decisions of the universities regarding the requirements of students to complete classes. Also, since NCHEC needed to postpone the delivery of the CHES® examination, we understand that some universities have temporarily suspended requirements to take the CHES® exam for graduation as the exam would not be administered until a later date. We do ask that you continue to inspire students to get certified at a time convenient for them. As NCHEC continues to navigate all the business changes from COVID-19, we will continue to communicate with those designated as “NCHEC Ambassadors” to ensure information can be shared with students and colleagues. Any questions related to exam preparation can be directed to Tanya Cole at email@example.com.
UPDATING EXAM SPECIFICATIONS: NCHEC was in the process of converting the exams to the new test specifications based on the outcomes of the Health Education Specialist Practice Analysis II-2020 (HESPA II-2020). In consideration of the stressors on professional preparation programs during this time of national emergency and to allow adequate time to update the exam questions, NCHEC will delay the implementation of the new exams until 2022, rather than as initially planned in 2021. Questions on the implementation of the new examination specification can be directed to Cynthia Narh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all for your patience and support as NCHEC continues to make updates and business decisions with the consideration of both public safety and sound certification standards. As our nation moves forward in addressing and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of a competent certified health education workforce is as critical and essential as ever before. We wish everyone strength and perseverance as we navigate through this challenging pandemic.
Linda Lysoby, MS, MCHES®, CAE | NCHEC Executive Director
Kathy Janes Jinkins, BSN, M.Ed.,MCHES® | NCHEC Board of Commissioners Chair