Credentialing Excellence in Health Education

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How to Study for the CHES® Exam

Advice for Taking the CHES® Exam

Are you preparing to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) examination? You are not alone. In fact, there are thousands of students and professionals sitting for this prestigious certification examination each year, at hundreds of Prometric Test Center locations across the country.

Lengthy examinations can be daunting!  But with such a inspiring community of test-takers around you, it can be quite advantageous to reach out to other people and find support. There are many others who will be sitting for the examination at the same time as you, and there are even more people who have come out the other side and have lived to tell about it!

Once you have passed the exam, you are on your way to advancing your career in health education and promotion through obtaining this valuable credential. But, to become a Certified Health Education Specialist, it is vital to know what to expect from this exam and just how to prepare.

 

What Can I Expect During the CHES® Exam?

The CHES® Exam covers all the core Competencies of the Health Education and Promotion field, which are contained within Seven Areas of Responsibility. These areas include: I. Asses Needs, Resources, and Capacity for Health Education / Promotion; II. Plan Health Education / Promotion; III. Implement Health Education / Promotion; IV. Conduct Evaluation and Research Related to Health Education / Promotion; V.  Administer and Manage Health Education / Promotion; VI. Serve as a Health Education / Promotion Resource Person; and VII. Communicate, Promote, and Advocate for Health and the Profession of Health Education / Promotion.

In the graphic above, you can see how each of these sections of the test are broken down. Since the exam covers a lot of material – 7 areas of study, 165 questions, and in 180 minutes – you have to be prepared, be nimble, and move confidently through the exam without hesitation.

Going into the exam itself, it is important to know what to expect. That’s why we turned to the CHES® network on Facebook. Here are some of the most important tips we received about what to expect during the exam:

  • Godspeed! Not going to lie, the test was pretty hard. They will give you a series of answer choices and often times multiple answers could apply...you just have to pick the one that's most correct. - Claire H.
  • Take it slow. Be confident. Celebrate after for all of your hard work! - Kai L.
  • Answer the questions you know for sure first and go back to the hard ones later. I was thinking 3 hours is a lot of time for a test BUT I used every second! Go for your first choice and don't over think! Go to the bathroom BEFORE the test and don't drink a lot of fluids!! Every second counts!! You basically have 180 minutes to answer 165 questions! - Alisha P.
  • Show up early in case there is anything that might prevent you from getting to the testing location on time. There was a marathon going on the morning that I tested and lots of roads were blocked off because of it! - Hannah A.
  • Make sure to eat and drink beforehand. Also, wear layers just in case. It was FREEZING when I took my exam and I struggled to keep warm. Also, don't overthink any of the questions- you've got this! Best of luck! - Monae B.
 

What Should I Do to Prepare for the CHES® Exam?

Leading up to test day, it is important to study hard with the right study materials. Since we all learn differently, there can be many ways that are more effective than others when it comes to exam preparation.

Candidates have reported positive outcomes through joining study groups, using the practice questions in the Health Education Specialist Companion Guide, auditing university courses, and reading additional selected textbooks. It is up to you to determine what mode of preparation is best for you. While optional, NCHEC does recommend that you prepare for the test by studying with text books, and utilizing practice questions, allowing you to test your knowledge and get your timing down for answering questions.

Although studying in this way does not guarantee passing the exam, it is a good way to practice for the exam itself. Since the study guides and books only contain sample questions, not actual questions that will be on the test, it is important for you to do extensive studying to have a better understanding of the material, beyond what is in the study guide.

NCHEC suggests keeping your studies quite broad. Since this is a national credential and is based on verified Competencies and Sub-competencies used by practicing CHES® across the country in many different job settings, you must take a deep dive into your previous studies so that you have the essential knowledge for practice as a health education specialist.

Despite the differences in how everyone studies for the exam and what methods prove successful for each person, we found that most CHES® test-takers had similar words of advice leading up to test day. Here are some great tips we received from past testers:

  • If you study, you got this! I took it in October and was terrified but don't stress yourself out too much. - Katie G.
  • Taking multiple practice tests was so beneficial! Get a good night rest today and let all that knowledge soak in. - Shellea Q.
  • My advice: Relax tonight … don’t panic … speed read because 3 hours goes so fast when taking the exam... Good luck. - Eneseo A.
  • Healthy breakfast, caffeine, and a good night rest. Good luck! - Ibel G.
  • Eat a great dinner, watch a movie, get some sleep, then go be awesome. - Roger P.
 

From the above advice, it is clear that there are two things to keep in mind: to study hard and to take care of yourself before exam day. It is important to stay balanced and clear-headed for the test, but to also make sure you are fed, rested, and ready to tackle the whole exam from start to finish!

 

Ready to Take the CHES®? Let’s Get Started.

If you are pursuing a career in the health education and promotion field, credentialing as CHES® is an excellent way to showcase your skills and ability to perform in the workplace - and in any job setting you choose.  Certification demonstrates that you have up-to-date knowledge and expertise, as well as your commitment to the profession and future professional development. Becoming CHES® or MCHES® can align you with a large network of like-minded professionals, so don’t forget to join our social media pages and stay up-to-date on industry events, news, and happenings.

To access everything you need for CHES® preparation, access NCHEC’s resources and our strong community of health education specialists! Click the button below to get started.

 

I am Ready to Take CHES®

I Want to Learn More About CHES®

Posted by Jessica Wessner at Tuesday, June 5, 2018
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The Value of Accreditation in the Credentialing Industry

“Accreditation by an objective 3rd-party organization signals the quality and value of becoming CHES® or MCHES®-certified. It shows we are truly the gold standard in health education credentialing.” -Dr. Kerry Redican, MPH, PhD, CHES®, Chair of the NCHEC Board of Commissioners


Accreditation is a voluntary evaluation process that certain certifying organizations like NCHEC undergo in order to maintain standards of professional quality agreed upon by members of a national and/or international accrediting body. Accreditation provides a formal, independent assessment of competence, and publicly recognizes the quality of an organization’s personnel certification services.

According to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), which offers accreditation to professional certification programs through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the International Accreditation Service (IAS), “Accreditation is more than just a logo that goes on your website. It shows a commitment to quality assurance and continuous quality enhancement for a program.”

Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®)/Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES®) and Accreditation

One of the most important considerations when selecting a certification is the value and meaningfulness of that credential in your given professional industry. In recent years, many other certifications or certificates have sprung up on the market, and for some it may be tempting to go an easier route to obtain a piece of paper that signifies ‘certified.’ However, there are very few certifications that are officially accredited by a national certifying body such as NCCA or IAS. Currently, the CHES® and MCHES® credentials are the only nationally and internationally accredited health education and promotion certifications on the market. This distinction is a significant indicator of quality for NCHEC certifications, as it illustrates the highest industry standards for quality and promotes confidence in the capabilities of practicing CHES® and MCHES®.

Who accredits CHES®/MCHES® certifications?

The NCCA has accredited the CHES® certification program since 2008 and the MCHES® certification program since 2013. The NCCA was developed in order to “ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public through the accreditation of a variety of certification programs/organizations that assess professional competence”. The NCCA standards require demonstration of a valid and reliable process for development, implementation, maintenance and governance of certification programs. It requires organizations to evaluate what they are doing well, and what can be improved upon to bring the biggest benefit to stakeholders, the profession and the public.

“NCHEC leadership has made the commitment to align with NCCA standards a priority in the development and implementation of the CHES® and the MCHES® certifications,” said Linda Lysoby, MPH, MCHES®, and Executive Director of NCHEC. “We consider accreditation a very prestigious recognition, as it demonstrates our firm and ongoing dedication to meet the highest credentialing standards of practice for the health education/promotion profession.”

In 2015, NCHEC earned accreditation as a Personnel Certification Body by the International Accreditation Service (IAS).   Accreditation by IAS provides a global benchmark for personnel certification programs to ensure consistent, comparable and reliable operations worldwide. 

 

What does NCCA and IAS Accreditation Mean?

The NCCA and IAS both evaluate the processes and systems used by NCHEC to identify professional role and scope of practice, develop exam content, and provide proper exam administration and scoring.   The program content of an accredited certification must also be validated with a comprehensive job analysis conducted and analyzed by experts, with data gathered from stakeholders in the occupation or industry.

Accreditation by NCCA and IAS will ensure that a program:

  • Employs assessment instruments that are derived from the job/practice analysis and that are consistent with generally accepted psychometric principles.
  • Awards certification only after the knowledge and/or skill of individual applicants have been evaluated and determined to be acceptable.
  • Establishes, publishes, applies, and periodically reviews key certification policies and procedures concerning existing and prospective certificants.
  • Demonstrates that its recertification requirements measure or enhance the continued competence of certificants.

In summary, accreditation through both NCCA and IAS verifies that certification provides an excellent barometer of current professional workplace competencies for a practicing CHES® or MCHES®. It also shows a strong measure of NCHEC’s ongoing commitment to the continuous improvement of its certifications. Furthermore, the value that accreditation imparts will extend from NCHEC to you – the certification holder – and onto the employer, the public, and all other stakeholders receiving the professional services of CHES® and MCHES®.


Resources:

Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE): Value of Accreditation Video, ICE, January 2017;

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

International Accreditation Service (IAS)

Certificate vs. Certification: What’s the Difference? ICE

Distinguishing between Quality Certification and Assessment-Based Certificate Programs: NCHEC, 2017

Posted by Jessica Wessner at Tuesday, May 15, 2018
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NCHEC Achieves Distinguished Re-Accreditation from NCCA

“Reaccreditation affirms that our organization continues to embrace the principles of continuous improvement in credentialing,” said Dr. Kerry Redican, MPH, PhD, CHES®, Chair of the NCHEC Board of Commissioners.  “NCCA and IAS accreditation signal the quality and value of becoming CHES® or MCHES®-certified. It shows we are the gold standard in health education credentialing.”

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC) has earned re-accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).  An audit of the non-profit organization’s structure and standards process was conducted by the NCCA in early 2018, and as a result, re-accreditation for a five-year period was granted.

“NCHEC leadership has made the commitment to align with NCCA standards a priority in the development and implementation of the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) and the Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES®) certifications,” said Linda Lysoby, MPH, MCHES®, and Executive Director of NCHEC. “We consider accreditation a very prestigious recognition, as it demonstrates our firm and ongoing dedication to meet the highest credentialing standards of practice for the health education/promotion profession.”

NCCA has accredited the CHES® certification program since 2008 and the MCHES® certification program since 2013. The NCCA was developed, in order to “ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public through the accreditation of a variety of certification programs/organizations that assess professional competence”. The NCCA standards require demonstration of a valid and reliable process for development, implementation, maintenance and governance of certification programs.

In addition to national reaccreditation, NCHEC was recently re-accredited as a Personnel Certification Body by the International Accreditation Service (IAS) for the ISO/IEC 17024 Conformity Assessment - General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons. International accreditation provides a global benchmark for personnel certification programs to ensure consistent, comparable and reliable operations worldwide.  

“Reaccreditation affirms that our organization continues to embrace the principles of continuous improvement in credentialing,” said Dr. Kerry Redican, MPH, PhD, CHES®, Chair of the NCHEC Board of Commissioners.  “NCCA and IAS accreditation signal the quality and value of becoming CHES® or MCHES®-certified. It shows we are the gold standard in health education credentialing.”

Posted by Jessica Wessner at Thursday, May 3, 2018
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How To Become a Health Education Specialist

The U.S. Department of Labor defines health educators as those that provide and manage health education programs that help individuals, families, and their communities maximize and maintain healthy lifestyles.

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Health educators, also known as Health Education Specialists, are active in communities large and small across the United States  addressing needs for health education  programs, planning effective programs, analyzing community data, and encouraging healthy lifestyles, policies, and environments. Health Education Specialists work in many different sectors of the workforce, including hospitals and clinics, government, insurance companies, community organizations, non-profits, schools, and universities.

So, how do you successfully become a health education specialist?

 

Step 1: Get A Bachelor’s Degree or Higher

You will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in health education, public health, or a related field with 25 or more credits specifically devoted to health education and promotion. Every college and university varies in the type of degree they offer and your ability to specialize in your undergraduate studies, but many offer some type of health education degree. Make sure your department chair knows that you wish to graduate with the necessary coursework to become certified as a Health Education Specialist. He or she can help you select the courses you need for eligibility. If you are graduate student who wishes to specialize in health education, there are many masters and even doctorate programs in this growing major of study.

 

Step 2: Get Experience During Undergraduate or Graduate School

Whichever field of study you venture into, it is always beneficial to get hours of direct experience, whether you’re shadowing a professional or getting hands-on practice. Make sure you seek out opportunities to learn beyond the classroom. Taking the initiative will prove to future employers that you’re committed to your education and professional preparation. Join student chapters of membership organizations, such as The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) or Eta Sigma Gamma, a National health education honorary.

Also, use undergraduate school as an opportunity to explore the multiple facets of health education and promotion. There will certainly be areas you enjoy more than others, so take the time to explore the diversity of this field. You’ll likely discover what you enjoy doing and maybe a specialty to explore.

 

Step 3: Keep Records of Your Undergraduate Projects & Experience

We recommend you keep meticulous records of everything you are doing during the course of your academic preparation. You don’t want to approach graduation and the next step of job applications and forget everything what you’ve achieved or participated in over the course of several years, so keep a log of it as you go. It doesn’t have to be anything formal at first.

As you get experience and work with professionals, keep a list of their contact information so you can call upon them for letters of recommendation. Employers will want to see these recommendations - the more the better!

If you’re working on several projects throughout undergraduate or graduate school, make sure you keep all of the information on file so you have something to show a potential employer as well.

Again, if you wait until graduation to compile all of this, you will have a hard time remembering and you will need to scramble to gather all of the details.

 

Step 4: Get Certified as a Health Education Specialist

Becoming a Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES®) attests to your health education knowledge and skills. It substantiates you as a professional and sets you apart from others in the health education and promotion field. It also shows your commitment to the core competencies of the field of health education and promotion.

More and more employers are requiring CHES®, so it’s in your best interest to get certified early so you can take a big leap within the field as soon as you complete your undergraduate or graduate studies.

Some CHES® holders wait several years to get their certification and most admit they wish they hadn’t waited. Since it’s becoming more of a requirement in the profession, and beneficial to you and your employer, go ahead and take steps now to get certified. There is a student option that allows you to sit for this exam before graduation, if you will have completed your coursework within 90 days of sitting for the exam. A student discount is also available if you are enrolled full time.

Interested in learning more about the CHES® exam? We have everything you need to know, including a handbook for the exam, video testimonials, fact sheets, and a presentation kit that shows all the steps to become a Certified Health Education Specialist.

LEARN MORE ABOUT NCHEC CERTIFICATION

Posted by Cynthia Narh at Tuesday, May 1, 2018
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SOPHE Annual Meeting: April 3-6th 2018, Columbus Ohio

Conference Highlights

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing was one of the gold sponsors at SOPHE’s 69th Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio this April 4-6th.  The theme of the conference centered on igniting changing and fostering innovation in the field of Health Education and Promotion. It was a fantastic conference packed with exciting sessions and workshops, awards programs, socials, competitions, roundtables, varying exhibitors, a poster promenade, and more.

The 3rd Annual CHES®/MCHES® Appreciation Breakfast

NCHEC welcomed over 185 active CHES® and MCHES® to kick of the conference with a complimentary meal, conversation and networking, and a presentation by current board members Ronenia Jenkins, Kerry Redican, and Chesley Cheatham, on current NCHEC activities.

The breakfast continues to grow yearly, and is a superb representation of practicing CHES® and MCHES® from across the country and from many different job sectors. 

 

NCHEC Exhibit

The staff at NCHEC enjoyed meeting with over 850 conference registrants over a very busy three day period! Thanks to all who took the time to stop by and chat with us about certification and the upcoming changes to computer-based testing, continuing competency, and grab some conference swag!

 
 

 

NCHEC Sessions

On Thursday afternoon, NCHEC representatives presented two sessions focused on training the next generation of Health Education Specialists.  NCHEC’s Division Board for Professional Development Director, Chesley Cheatham, spoke about the upcoming changes to how NCHEC will measure the continuing competency of CHES® and MCHES®.  NCHEC’s Board of Commissioners Chair, Dr. Kerry Redican, and NCHEC staff member Melissa Opp, were on hand to present information about the launch of a new computer-based test for the certification exams. Attendance at NCHEC sessions was standing room only.

Eta Sigma Gamma

While at SOPHE, NCHEC was delighted to participate in the Eta Sigma Gamma awards ceremony, where students majoring in Health Education programs across the country showcased their talent and passion for the field. The NCHEC-sponsored Major of the Year Awards were presented by immediate past Chair of the NCHEC Board of Commissioners Dr. Dixie Dennis.  NCHEC’s Executive Director, Linda Lysoby, was also acknowledged at this event when she received the ESG Honor Award, which is presented to an individual or organization that has made major contributions to the health education profession through service, education, and/or research. It is the highest award given by Eta Sigma Gamma.

Next year's SOPHE annual meeting will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah on March 26 - 29, 2019. Mark your calendars!

Posted by Jessica Wessner at Monday, April 16, 2018
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What Does a Health Education Specialist Do?

For those working in the field of health education and promotion, the question "what does a health education specialist do?" is often heard from friends or colleagues who might not yet have a firm concept of the professional role of the CHES® or MCHES®. Although the term "specialist" signifies a niche or singular role, this is truly not the case. CHES® and MCHES® work in many varying career sectors and carry out a multitude of tasks that require specific knowledge and competency gained through years of academic and professional preparation. 

"I'm excited about my current position because I get to do a little bit of everything," says Trisha Zizumbo, MSA, CHES®, of the Oakland County Michigan Health Department. "One day I could be working on healthy eating and getting people to go to farmer's markets, and the next day, there's a Hepatitis A outbreak and I'm right in there. It's a wide-variety field."

Watch the full video about job roles for Certified and Master-Certified Health Education Specialists.

 

Posted by Jessica Wessner at Monday, April 2, 2018
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