By Jennie Struijk
As many of us who have worked in SP education for the last several years know, there has long been interest in ASPE providing some sort of certification or credential for those in the field. Developing a certification process is both a complex and expensive proposition and, in the end, the larger association Society for Simulation in Healthcare took on the challenge of creating an entry-level certification that would cover not only simulation technicians and educators but SP educators as well.
While SSH led the process, a number of educators from both ASPE and the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation & Learning (INACSL) were deeply involved in the development of standards and testing items. Participating ASPE members include: Joe Lopreiato, Wendy Gammon, Cate Nicholas, Karen Barry, and Gayle Gliva – McConvey.
The pilot program for the CHSE began in June 2012, and the final results went out to participants in December of 2012. I had the opportunity to be part of the initial pilot, and was excited not only to stretch my own knowledge into some areas of simulation in which I rarely work (technical simulation scenario programming, game theory), but also to learn about the process from the perspective of a candidate so that I could share my experience with fellow ASPE members.
I’m pleased to say that I found the overall process worthwhile. Most useful to me was the bibliography of references from all corners of the broader field of simulation. The period of preparation for the certification exam was both an opportunity and an impetus to immerse myself in well-known foundational texts and new publications. I found returning to the perspective of “learner” within my own field rejuvenating which led to new ideas with direct application to my current work. For this benefit alone I would recommend undertaking the certification process.
Having said this, there were some “bumps in the road” I experienced that may be helpful for a prospective candidate to be aware of in order to navigate this process successfully. From the perspective of a pilot participant, it was sometimes difficult to be certain one had the most up-to-date study material or notice of testing dates and requirements throughout the preparation for the testing period, as resources were added to and/or changed on the website without notification to the pilot participants.
Additionally, there were a number of extended delays – in processing applications, in notifying applicants of their status, and, unfortunately, in providing testing results (they arrived more than 3 months after initially promised). Though delays are to be expected during pilots, I found myself frustrated when I experienced very little communication during the six month pilot period as did some of the other participants with whom I spoke.
Andrew Spain, Director of Certification for SSH has assured me that the challenges during the pilot period have helped SSH work out better approaches for bulk communication with participants and for providing access to the main program materials, and, now that testing cut-points have been set, the results are available directly after testing.
My final caveat is more global. What does it mean when SP Educators, who exist because of the significant need to teach and evaluate people using experiential and observational methodologies, choose to certify our own knowledge using a computerized multiple-choice test?
This is something every educator would need to consider individually. In my case, while I continue to feel that an educator’s background would be better evaluated by portfolio/video review, essay, or even an OSCE-type exam, using a multiple-choice test to set the first level for certification may be valid; especially if an advanced certification (currently in development) offers a more robust and dynamic evaluation of skills.
Andrew Spain, and Cate Nicholas, Grants and Research Committee Chair, have some exciting things to say about the upcoming “CHSE-Advanced” level “Certification Q & A” at the Atlanta ASPE conference. I continue to be interested to learn more, even if I’m not certain whether the effort and expense of an additional certification will be something I will choose undertake.
Learn more about the CHSE Certification at www.ssih.org/certification