Educators: Are You Certified?

CHES© and MCHES©, or Certified Health Education Specialist and Masters of Certified Health Education Specialist, are national and international certifications for health educators. CHES is for entry-level health educators and MCHES is designed for specialists with at least five years of experience. These certifications are offered by the nonprofit organization National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), whose mission is to “enhance the professional practice of Health Education by promoting and sustaining a credentialed body of Health Education Specialists.”

To become certified, one must pass an examination that assesses one’s competence in the possession, application, and interpretation of Seven Areas of Responsibility:

Area I: Assess Needs, Resources, and Capacity for Health Education/Promotion
Area II: Plan Health Education/Promotion
Area III: Implement Health Education/Promotion
Area IV: Conduct Evaluation and Research Related to Health Education/Promotion
Area V: Administer and Manage Health Education/Promotion
Area VI: Serve as a Health Education/Promotion Resource Person
Area VII. Communicate, Promote, and Advocate for Health, Health Education/Promotion, and the Profession

Once certified, one must pay an annual $55 renewal fee and obtain 75 continuing education contact hours every five years for recertification.

Who is eligible?

Basic requirements to be eligible for the exam include:

  • Official transcript clearly showing health education major

OR

  • Official transcript reflecting at least 25 semester hours or 37 quarter hours with specific preparation addressing the Seven Areas of Responsibility and Competency for Health Education Specialists.

Should I become certified?

This national credential lets others know that you have competencies beyond just a degree. You understand the responsibility and accountability in being a high quality health educator. Certification can be appealing to employers looking for health education experts and may be required for some careers in the field.

How can I become certified?

Exams are offered biannually in April and October. Check out the NCHEC exam overview  for more information on registering for the next exam!

ACT for Youth now offers contact hours

ACT for Youth has recently become a Designated Provider of continuing education contact hours with NCHEC. This means we can now help those of you who are already certified get those 75 credit hours! Any webinar or training we offer that addresses at least one of the Areas of Responsibility will be eligible for contact hours (don’t worry – we will make it clear if a webinar or training does not qualify). If you attend and successfully complete these events, you will need to get in touch with me (mas597@cornell.edu) as soon as possible to receive a special evaluation form to be completed. Once we’ve received your evaluation form, we will submit it to NCHEC for you. We are excited to be able to offer this new service to help further your career as a certified health educator!

Divine Sebuharara  – Divine Sebuharara, MS, CHES

Unexpected Situations! What’s an Educator to Do?

So, you’ve gone to all of the ACT Training of Educators, you’ve taken the online implementation training, you’ve even gone to a training on facilitation, but what if the “WHAT IF” happens?  We train educators how to deal with sensitive questions, but what about dealing with sensitive situations that come up in your programs?

Picture this scenario.  While implementing your program in a typical classroom setting, you’re facilitating a module that includes a game centered around STDs.  It’s one of the more engaging activities and participants usually have a lot of fun doing it, but this time, one of the students gets really upset and begins to get teary.  What do you do?

As educators, we can never really plan for EVERYTHING, but we try to be as prepared as possible.  In the case of this scenario, having a participant cry during the session can really rattle an educator, but it’s important to remember that we’re dealing with issues that can bring up a lot for people.  A strategy for dealing with issues like these is to put that out there up front.  Let participants know at the beginning of the cycle what you will be covering, and be explicit.  They may not know when you will cover a particular topic, but at least they know what to expect.

Also, let them know about the different strategies that you’ll be using.  Inform them from the start that there will be role plays involved, but the decision to participate as an actor is completely voluntary.  There will be games involved, but it doesn’t mean that the program or you, as the educator, think topics like HIV/AIDS or negotiating sex are funny or don’t take them seriously.

Without putting them on the spot, check in with them, ask if they’re OK or if they need to take a break (possibly step out of the class/group setting).  This will require you to find out the policy of the school/agency regarding students’ leaving the room.  It’s also helpful if you have another adult in the class (a co-facilitator, teacher, etc.) who can support you so that you can tend to the class and they can assist with the student.  Also, note that checking in with them may require a longer conversation and possibly disclosure of a bigger issue.  Be aware of who the social worker, counselor, or on-site support is, if needed.

Lastly, self-care is important.  Remind them that your workshop is a safe space.  You have to go over all of the material, but if something being discussed is too much for them or hits too close to home, let participants know that they can do whatever is necessary to take care of their needs.  Make sure to give them examples (e.g. step out, take a water break, mentally check out, write/doodle/draw in their notebooks, etc.)

This was one example of a challenging or sensitive situation that may arise, but I’m sure there are many more.  What are some examples you have from the field of difficult situations that have arisen in your programs, and how have you dealt with them?

  – Michele

Educators: How confident are you with sex ed content?

How much do you know about the menstrual cycle and fertility? How about the way different contraceptives work? Do you know how the major STDs affect the body? Can you explain the difference between sex and gender? Many CAPP and PREP projects are based in organizations that do not specialize in human sexuality. If you are not sure that you could comfortably and confidently answer a wide range of questions on sexual health, you may want to take advantage of the many resources available for your professional development.

Assessment

Self-assessment is an excellent place to start. Healthy Teen Network has developed a self-assessment tool (PDF) for sexual health educators, much of it focused on content. Rate yourself so that you have a good sense of where your weaker areas are – the content areas where you could use a booster.

In-Person Training

Planned Parenthood of NYC Training Institute
A wide variety of topics are offered in PPNYC’s Training Institute. Continuing education contact hours, including Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) contact hours, are available at no additional cost. Your local Planned Parenthood affiliate may also be able to provide in-service training.

National Sex Ed Conference
Sponsored by the Center for Sex Education, this annual conference offers workshops for new and seasoned sex education professionals. (Were you there last week? Tell us how it was!)

CAI (Cicatelli Associates Inc.)
CAI is a training center for NYS DOH AIDS Institute.

Online Training and Webinars

Answer (Rutgers University)
Answer offers online training and capacity building for sex education professionals, including topics such as “Sexuality ABCs” and “Sexual Anatomy and Response,” among many others.

CAPP and PREP Webinars
Find recorded webinars here. Remember to check the CAPP and PREP Training Calendar for upcoming webinars.

Cardea eLearning Courses
While Cardea’s online courses are primarily for clinicians, educators may find value in courses such as “Family Planning Basics,” “Gender Diversity 101,” and “STD 101.”

Office of Adolescent Health: Online Learning Modules
OAH offers several online learning opportunities for organizations in the teen pregnancy prevention and expecting and parenting teen fields, including “Talking with Teens about Reproductive Health” and “Adolescent Development.”

Brushing Up: Brief Reading and Videos

For a more comprehensive list, download the Directory of Professional Development Opportunities in Sexuality Education (Word) from Future of Sex Ed.

Recommendations?

If you have resources to suggest, please comment (or you can email me directly at ks548@cornell.edu).

 

Karen Schantz   – Karen

Contraception Basics for Educators: New Resources, Inclusive Language

Earlier this summer, Dr. Taylor Starr presented the information-packed webinar “Contraception Options for Adolescents: Basics for Educators.” While you can find the full recording (including extensive Q&A) on the Shared Resources page, we thought it might be helpful to also break it into bite-size pieces.

To find JUST the method information you are looking for, visit our Contraception page and scroll down to “Methods.” There you will find an edited version of the webinar, along with short excerpts on each method covered.

Remember, these videos are intended for YOU, not for your students. They give background on each method, including how it works, duration, effectiveness, and side effects, all from a clinical perspective. Our hope is that you can use these resources to build your base of knowledge so that you can confidently answer young people’s questions.

Another reference we’ve just updated for your use is Birth Control Methods in Brief (PDF) – just the basic facts, minus side effects. In this new edition I’ve attempted to use language appropriate to all genders. Did I succeed? What would you change or recommend? Do you have resources to share on gender-inclusive language in sex education?

Share your thoughts and resources in the comments, please! You can also direct them to me at ks548@cornell.edu. Your feedback is helpful and much appreciated.

Karen Schantz   -Karen

What Do Youth Think about Birth Control Methods?

A few years back, the Department of Health asked the ACT COE to gather young people’s perspectives on family planning services. With the help of CAPP and PREP providers, we were able to speak with 336 youth in 36 focus groups all over New York State. What we found was, for the most part, not surprising: Many had confidentiality concerns centered around the fear that parents would find out or people would know their business. Youth were afraid of being judged by clinicians and other staff; talking about sex and contraception felt awkward; and clinics did not always seem friendly to youth. There were also fears about getting bad news at a clinic visit.

No surprises there. But to me, one finding did stand out: the overwhelming negative beliefs and attitudes that youth expressed about birth control methods.

Participants were asked to name contraceptive methods that they were aware of and briefly discuss each method. Our researchers counted the number of negative vs. positive remarks made about each contraceptive method – and in nearly every case, the negative comments far outweighed the positive comments.

Negative comments most often referred to side effects they had heard about, as well as perceived lack of reliability. Emergency contraception in particular was considered dangerous – and had five times as many negative comments as positive. The only method where the good edged out the bad? Abstinence. Abstinence was not mentioned as frequently as other methods, but youth clearly understood that it is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy. (It was also largely seen as unrealistic.)

This study is several years old. More recently, researchers in South Carolina* conducted a small focus group study with black and Latina/o youth in two counties. They found many of the same themes: young people expressed the need for private, confidential services in an environment that is friendly to teens. And again, negative feelings about birth control surfaced – especially with respect to side effects. As one teen put it when talking of contraception commercials, “I hate it when they say side effects may include dizziness, drowsiness, heart disease…I say no thank you.”

We know we need to work on the perception and reality of confidential services for youth. At the same time, let’s make sure youth are getting positive messages about birth control. The good news is, they’ve received positive messages about abstinence, and these messages appear to be getting through. How can we present other methods in a positive light as well? Teens who are now or will soon be sexually active do need to know the side effects of any method they are considering, but are they also hearing about convenience, effectiveness, ease of use, and accessibility?

What are your thoughts? Do you have strategies to share? Let us know in the comments.

Karen Schantz– Karen

*Galloway, C. T., Duffy, J. L., Dixon, R. P., & Fuller, T. R. (2017). Exploring African-American and Latino Teens’ Perceptions of Contraception and Access to Reproductive Health Care Services. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60(3, Supplement), S57–S62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.12.006

You can find more on the ACT for Youth study here: Youth and Family Planning: Findings from a Focus Group Study (PDF)