By Rebecca DeVivo, MPH, MSW, CHCP; Chief Professional Educational Officer, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy; Board Member, Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions
Editor’s Note: The Certification of Healthcare CPD Professionals (CHCP) credential provides self-assessment to individuals employed in the healthcare CPD field, while defining minimal competency for the healthcare education profession. Learn more on the Alliance’s CHCP website.
Confession #1: It’s easy to invent excuses not to pursue certification.
I’m busy. My job is busy, my life is busy, I volunteer in my free time and my DVR has been consistently neglected even though it has a long list of mostly terrible shows that I’d really like to watch. It was always easy to find an excuse to not pursue my CHCP.
Then the Alliance took over the certification, and I became the board liaison to the CHCP Commission. As we began to prepare for a marketing campaign and a new exam, I passionately threw down the gauntlet to our entire board that we should all be certified professionals if we are going to be leaders in our own field. That probably would have had more weight if I’d actually had my CHCP.
And so it was time: time to face the fear and make the time. I sent my application and, when that was approved, I followed the directions and signed up for the test date. I wanted to force myself to work toward a hard deadline so I wouldn’t put it off any longer. I gave myself three months to prepare and started my self-directed learning.
I started with taking a practice exam through the Alliance website (currently, the CALLS CHCP Exam Prep Questions offers 50+ questions at $49 for members), which helped me to identify my knowledge gaps. I reviewed the content outline, which served as a study guide, as well as the National Learning Competencies, the ACCME criteria (again), the AMA PRA Guidelines, the AdvaMed Code and several prominent articles on adult learning theory. I participated in the Alliance CALLS module on adult learning theory, which is a bit outdated in appearance but has good information. I took notes and kept track of which areas I wanted to research further.
Confession #2: I was scared to pursue my CHCP credential.
One of the reasons I’ve put off the CHCP was simply that I was afraid of the results. I’ve worked in continuing physician professional development for over 15 years. Once upon a time, I helped to develop the AMA PRA booklet. I’ve written a few self-studies, and I’ve presented at several conferences, but I was afraid I would fail the CHCP. I was afraid that my colleagues would judge me and suddenly everyone would think I’m a fraud, that I am not an expert, that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I worried that I would convince my organization to financially support me in this endeavor and then I’d have to explain why I didn’t pass. After being out of school for so long, I wasn’t even sure I remembered how to study for or take an exam. Which leads me to…
Confession #3: I never really felt ready to take the exam, but it didn’t matter.
I was fairly certain I was going to fail until the moment I was told I passed (immediately after the exam, by the way). But it really didn’t matter whether I passed or failed. I had gained a lot. I refreshed my knowledge and learned new aspects of adult learning theory that I’d been able to implement in my job. I had a new appreciation for what our physicians have to go through to maintain their license and certification on a regular basis. As both an educator and a supervisor, it was humbling to remember how to be a student and to be reminded that we all have room for improvement.
Confession #4: I secretly love having my CHCP.
I’ve never been particularly good at singing my own praises or publicizing my successes, but I can say that I am proud to have my CHCP. It has given me a sense of accomplishment and validation as a continuing education professional. And while I could have gone for my CAE like some of my colleagues, I’m glad to have a credential in the profession that is my home.
Confession #5: I’m not that special.
I realize that by writing this article I run the risk of making others more anxious by highlighting some of my fears, but I hope it will have the opposite effect. I hope this article empowers others by acknowledging that there’s likely an element of fear for everyone, regardless of experience level. If you are newer to the CPD field, review the eligibility form and requirements for both the CHCP and the Associate Exam, then set goals for your development. If you’ve been in the field for a couple years or more, you likely already have a wealth of knowledge to draw on and this process can help you fill in those gaps. Either way, it is an invaluable learning experience.
And isn’t that what we’re all about?