Written by: Melissa Opp, MPH, MCHES – NCHEC Deputy Executive Director
The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), overseen by the NCHEC Board of Commissioners, continues to meet the organization’s mission to enhance the professional practice of Health Education by promoting and sustaining a credentialed body of Health Education Specialists. NCHEC strives for continued recognition as the premier credentialing organization with a commitment to meet the highest credentialing standards of practice for the health education/promotion profession.
One of NCHEC’s major achievements in 2015 was accreditation from the International Accreditation Service (IAS). The IAS accreditation program for Personnel Certification Bodies is based on ISO/IEC Standard 17024:2012 Conformity Assessment –– general requirements for bodies operating certification of persons. Accreditation provides a global benchmark for personnel certification programs to ensure consistent, comparable and reliable operations worldwide. The IAS recognition provides quality assurance to the public and other stakeholders that NCHEC’s policies and procedures are in alignment with high international standards. In addition to ISO 17024 accreditation, the CHES and MCHES programs continue to maintain third-party accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
In order to be in compliance with both national and international standards, NCHEC partnered with the Society for Public Health Education, and testing vendor, ProExam, to release the Health Education Specialists Practice Analysis (HESPA) study. A Competency Based Framework for Health Education Specialists – 2015, was subsequently published and included the latest Responsibilities, Competencies, and Sub-competencies that are essential to contemporary health education/promotion practice. The book contains descriptions of the processes, outcomes, and related materials of the psychometric study of the HESPA project. The publication is designed for use by those in the health education/promotion profession as a framework for professional preparation, credentialing, and professional development.
With the release of the HESPA study, NCHEC’s Division Board for Certification of Health Education Specialists (DBCHES) has been working diligently to revise the CHES and MCHES examinations to be reflective of the updated Responsibilities, Competencies, and Sub-competencies. In April 2016, the new MCHES exam will be utilized, based on the HESPA model findings, while the new CHES exam will be used in the October 2016 exam cycle. In addition, The Health Education Specialists: A Companion Guide for Professional Excellence 7th edition, was released in 2015 in preparation for these revised MCHES and CHES examinations.
NCHEC’s Division Board for Professional Preparation and Practice (DBPPP) continues to work with colleges and universities and accrediting agencies to improve professional preparation programs. NCHEC continues to show solid growth in certifying CHES and MCHES. The 2015 exam cycles had the highest number of registrations of all cycles with a total of 2736 CHES registrants and 170 MCHES registrants.
Figures 1 and 2: CHES and MCHES Exam Registration - 3 Year Comparison Study, 2013 through 2015
NCHEC currently supports 130 test sites around the nation and in 2015, offered the examinations at two national conferences: SOPHE 2015 and the American School Health Association (ASHA) 2015.
To date, there are over 12,000 CHES and MCHES working in every state in the United States and even some who are practicing internationally. NCHEC works with over 250 designated providers that offer continuing education to our certificants. NCHEC’s Division Board for Professional Development (DBPD) continues to host the “How Do I Maintain my Certification” webinar for educational opportunities regarding the maintenance of certification as well as receiving continuing education hours for participation. DBPD also has been working to increase the number of designated providers, and to educate these providers on the value of offering advanced-level continuing education opportunities in addition to entry-level credits.
In April of 2015, NCHEC launched a revitalized website with a smooth navigation and intuitive design that streamlined and updated the user experience while visiting the site. In the same month, NCHEC transitioned to a new database that increased efficiency of workflow, allowing improved service to CHES and MCHES. NCHEC’s marketing committee launched year 1 of its three year marketing and communications plan in 2015. The committee continues to implement detailed strategies to address four specific goals.
- Goal #1 – Establish CHES and MCHES-certified health education specialists as highly recognized and valued team members by expanding employers’ endorsements of the credentials.
- Goal #2 – Engage current certificants to create a strong community of certified health education specialists that understands the value of maintaining certification.
- Goal #3 – Create an active and engaged community of post-secondary educators in the field of health education that advocates for CHES certification to students.
- Goal #4 – Motivate more health education specialists to apply for the CHES and MCHES exam to ensure there are competent practitioners meeting the needs of all stakeholders, including the public.
2015 was a busy and exciting year as NCHEC continues to support the health education profession by certifying individuals and safeguarding quality assurance in the workforce. As NCHEC looks forward to 2016, the continued implementation of the 2015-2019 strategic plan will be a top priority. NCHEC thanks all CHES and MCHES for their continued commitment to the health education profession by being nationally certified. The support of each person who holds the certification and other stakeholders is essential to NCHEC’s charge to be the premier health education credentialing organization and carry out its mission.