By Jennie Struik
Interview with Andrew Spain, SSH Director of Certification
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be involved with the CHSE certification program, and about your role?
I have been a Paramedic since 1992, first in South Metro Denver, and then in MO since 1994 (air and ground). I have been in education that entire time, first as a PHTLS instructor, then adding as I went along. Eventually, I was in charge of the EMS Education program at the University of Missouri for 5 years, coming to SSH in November 2010 as first the Manager, and now the Director of Certification. I have been involved in many issues related to Certification and/or Accreditation as part of my career–though certainly not specialized in them! I am also currently working on my PhD in Education with an emphasis in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (at MU).
Piloting a new program is always about expecting the unexpected. The CHSE pilot took longer to complete than originally forecast. What were some of the obstacles, and what was learned along the way?
Obviously it did take longer than hoped–though that may have been more due to my own optimism as I understand from others (external viewpoint) that they think this actually went quite quickly. I was also (and am still finding) that communication is a challenge due to the nature of emails, firewalls, and so forth. This also includes the realization that the website needed improvement from what we first put together.
Has anything been changed in the program as a result of the pilot?
We updated the website–though it continues to evolve. We expect to be putting together a much more robust system for the application and process, as well as to support the recertification process. This is in progress and I hope that it will be up within a few months at most. We also are working to continually improve the messaging and communication where possible. This was a deliberate choice to wait on this since we knew we would learn lessons during the pilot that would help us to build a better final version of the application.
An Advanced-level CHSE certification was mentioned as an upcoming project – for whom would this be intended? Would the process be similar to the CHSE basic-level (study, computerized exam) or would there be additional/other pieces, such as portfolios or observed exams? Is this still up in the air?
Officially, it is still in development. However, I can say with a certainty that for one to be a CHSE-A, they must meet all the criteria for CHSE–including the exam. How can one be deemed advanced if they cannot meet the competent criteria? For the CHSE-A, the additional piece that will be submitted will be a robust portfolio that demonstrates evidence of the Standards, but to a higher level of functioning than at the competent level. We expect there to be media submissions (as appropriate to modalities of simulation used) as well as submissions of work completed by the applicant, educational programs designed etc. One big concern already is that there has been fear that these portfolios would be published—and the answer is absolutely not without the permission of the applicant. It is just the same as a regular application for certification in that respect. The minimum experience threshold has been set at 5 years, and the educational requirement is being examined (as well as any other requirements). We hope to launch the pilot mid-year, but lots of work to do!
SSH lists ASPE and INACSL as “supporters” of certification. I know a number of people from each association participated at very high levels. Are they part of a certification umbrella group, or is the credential offered by SSH alone?
Officially, the credential is offered by SSH (sole funder of the project thus far). However, ASPE, INACSL, and other simulation societies have been, and continue to be integral parts of the process in the development and ongoing work with the certifications. ASPE and INACSL have taken the step of publicly supporting the project, with obvious benefits to their members (pricing). We hope to see more societies do the same as they review the work that has been done. It is of utmost (and I cannot stress this enough) importance for the certifications to be built in a collaborative nature wherever possible–to accurately reflect the entire simulation community in all nations. A challenge–but well worth it!
Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Just that we have strived to build a certification (certifications in the future) that are rigorous, meet industry standards, and done with the highest quality possible. And we will continue this as we move forward to develop the certification for Sim Technicians/Operations/Specialists (term TBD) since we have been approved to develop that certification as well.
Interview with Cate Nicholas, CHSE Committee Member
How did you become involved in the CHSE certification effort? What did your work entail?
I felt it was really important to have a well-balanced representation from all areas of simulation based education and as standardized patient educator have played such a major role in education and assessment over the past 40 years, I felt very strongly that ASPE should have strong representation from the very beginning. I participated in a two-day retreat with others from the simulation community do a Practice Analysis -identifying the common areas of practice that make up a simulation educator – which was used to develop the survey that went out to the simulation community which evolved into the test blueprint for the examination . I wrote exam questions, reviewed exam questions and now review applications for people who apply to sit for the exam.
What did you learn about other forms of simulation, or about certification, during your work?
It was a pleasure to meet the experts from other areas of simulation who were just as passionate and felt as strongly about their work as we do about ours. Over those 2 days of the first retreat, I meet people whose work I had read about and admired. I believe they had a chance to learn more about ASPE and standardized patients methodology. From that meeting I felt we made serious in roads on coming to a better understanding of how we are all more alike than different while at the same time respecting what we each brought to the conversation. As result, we moved the entire field forward and other opportunities to work together grew out of that weekend.
Is the CHSE credential something you would recommend ASPE members pursue? Why or why not? Is there a particular group of educators for whom it would be particularly useful?
I would definitely recommend it to our ASPE members. I am proud to say that 3 of our faculty took it the first round and are now CHSE! I have to say I had my doubts about this process and was worried about producing cookie cutter educators. That is not how I see it now. Having your CHSE in a world that respects credentials and accreditation can only move our profession forward. Who might this be useful for – if you are staff at your institution I would expect this would be particularly useful. If you are not intending to go on to get a Master in Education or beyond, this would a great way to certify your teaching expertise as a simulation educator. By the end of this year, all of our SPEs will be CHSEs.
Are you involved in the development of the CHSE-A credential? If so, why is an advanced credential needed? Whom would it target?
The requirements for the CHSE-A are still being discussed. A subcommittee of the Certification Committee is working on this now. We do know that candidates will need to have taken and passed the CHSE exam. I feel confident that the working group, on which I sit, will be quite deliberate and get feedback from stakeholders as we move this forward.