1. Gilmore, Gary D. MPH, PhD, CHES

Article Content

Dear Editor:


In the article titled, The Credentialing of a Population-Based Health Profession: Lessons Learned from Health Education Certification, Livingood and Auld (JPHMP, 2001; 7(4): 38-45) present a succinct and accurate overview of the development of the certification process for health education, including emerging evaluation procedures related to the process, and potential insights for other public health professions. Several key points are worthy of expansion.


First, the Council of Accredited MPH Programs (CAMP) has as one of its 10 goals that of representing "accredited Community Health Education Programs on agencies that develop, monitor and evaluate state and national standards and competencies for graduate-trained community health educators." 1 In order to accomplish this goal, we need to be aware of and, as appropriate, advocate for those competency-related activities in progress and on the horizon. A myriad of interest in, and proposals related to, competency-based assessment has arisen during the last few years, including the following examples. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Public Health Workforce Development Initiative estimated that 80 percent of the nation's 500,000 public health workers lack the basic skills to respond to public health threats now and in the future. 2 The U.S. schools of public health and the Association of the Schools of Public Health (ASPH) called for a conceptual framework for ensuring appropriate public health core competency development in their MPH programs centered around the domains of skills, perspectives, and applications. 3 The National Public Health Leadership Development Network consortium developed a Public Health Leadership Competency Framework offering a baseline set of competencies designed by academic and practice members. 4 The broad thread that tends to interface many of these efforts is comprised of the public health core areas and population-based approaches forming a foundation for the MPH curricula in the community health education programs and schools of public health. CAMP believes the watch words should be collaboration and communication in seeking more comprehensive and collective approaches, particularly as all of the various organizations and institutions focus on the competency-based preparation of professionals who will address the changing and challenging global nature of health issues.


Second, the authors' summary of "lessons learned" from the health education certification process provides important insights for CAMP and other public health-aligned organizations, particularly when citing that "credentialing must be based on competencies linked to job responsibilities and such competencies should be based on sound, defensible research." 5 Regarding this insight, it is of value to point out that the national Competencies Update Project (CUP) is currently involved in a multi-phase project to establish valid and verified competencies for both entry and advanced levels of health education practice. This effort is part of profession-wide efforts to ensure that a competent health education workforce will ultimately benefit the public at large. Initiated in 1998, the CUP serves as a follow-up to the 1978-1981 original Role Delineation Project with its emphasis on defining the role of the entry-level health education specialist. A 24-member CUP Advisory Committee, representing 12 national health education and public health-related organizations, coupled with the three-member Steering Committee, has been systematically offering insights into the process, which includes a survey instrument designed to assess what health educators do in all of the six identified practice settings. Following planning, fact finding, and most recently, pilot phases, the CUP is entering into the major research period assessing competency-related information from health educators in 16 randomly selected states. The resulting data analysis will provide information in 2002-2003 regarding the entry-level and advanced-level competencies for health educators, thereby impacting on professional preparation, certification, and professional development. 6,7


Finally, during a time of increasing calls for accountability, CAMP supports the Society for Public Health Education study, which is assessing the impact of health education credentialing on practitioner competence and its degree of inclusiveness. This is a defining moment in health education and it is our public responsibility to demonstrate the value of our investments in professional preparation, credentialing, and professional development.




1. Council of Accredited MPH Programs in Community Health Education (CAMP) (1999). Bylaws. Washington, D.C. [Context Link]


2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) (2000). Workforce Development Initiative. Atlanta. [Context Link]


3. Clark, N.M. & Weist, E. (2000). Mastering the New Public Health. American Journal of Public Health; 90(8): 1208-1211. [Context Link]


4. Wright, K. et al. (2000). Competency Development in Public Health Leadership. American Journal of Public Health; 90(8): 1202-1207. [Context Link]


5. Livingood, W.C. & Auld, M.E. (2001). The Credentialing of a Population-Based Health Profession: Lessons Learned from Health Education Certification. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice; 7(4): 38-45. [Context Link]


6. National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) (2001). Update on the Competencies Update Project. CHES Bulletin; Fall. [Context Link]


7. Gilmore, G.D., Olsen, L.K., & Taub, A. (2001). Competencies Update Project: Promoting Quality Assurance in Health Education. Bureau of Health Professions; Health Resources and Services Administration; USDHHS. [Context Link]