Empowering Frontline Staff

By Sandra Rials, MS

March 23, 2015 | Formats: Article | Content Areas: Administration | Tags: Career Development

It’s easy to demonstrate how certification can forward, develop, and propel one’s career. In addition to the CHESP certification, AHE is proud to announce a certification program for environmental services technicians or frontline staff. The program will officially launch as Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technician™ or CHEST, with an overarching goal to improve outcomes—for the patient, department, facility, and the community.

Interpreting Value in Health Care Delivery It’s easy to see that employing fully proficient, certified frontline staff can impact the patient’s experience of care, their satisfaction, and, potentially, clinical outcomes. However, it’s believed that certified technicians will also contribute to their facility’s financial success. The new CHEST curriculum emphasizes essential skills such effective communication and emotional intelligence but also highlights value in health care delivery. A well-trained and skilled environmental services team can impact how patients perceive their care and how they might score on a survey. We all know these elements can indirectly influence an organization’s reimbursement and financial health. In addition, it’s anticipated that certification could actually lower staff turnover. Recruitment costs can be significant to any organization—no matter what level of staff is being recruited. Because of certification, we expect to see increased engagement and retention levels as technicians stay longer in their roles. This should directly affect recruitment and other labor costs as staff turnover decreases.

CHEST Curriculum Development

The CHEST certification program is built on an extensive, authentic training curriculum structured around the pillars of infection prevention, emotional intelligence, effective communication, value-driven care, and evidence-based cleaning protocols.

Development of the CHEST program is currently underway. AHE has contracted with a well-known and respected curriculum design and development company to work with subject-matter experts. AHE has assembled a group of environmental services leaders from across the country and all care settings to serve as subject-matter experts who will be key contributors in the design and development of the program.

Train the Trainer

Over the next few months, AHE will develop, vet, and deliver a top-rated certification training program, complete with job aides, participant guidebooks, multimedia, real-world case studies, and authentic assessments.

The certification program is based on the train-the-trainer model. In this model, AHE leverages the expertise of environmental services leaders and subject-matter experts to train health care trainers at various locations throughout the country. AHE’s cadre of master trainers will facilitate a series of highly interactive two-and-a-half-day workshops targeted to health care trainers, managers, and supervisors.

The very first train-the-trainer session will be held in Grapevine, Texas, in September as a pre-conference workshop. AHE will offer two additional workshops—one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast—later in the fall. The cost to register for the workshop is $950 per health care trainer. There is an additional cost for certification materials.

Defining the Future

A benefit of the program is that both trainers and technicians alike will receive recognition and respect for being a part of the CHEST program. In addition, technicians whose technical knowledge and skills can be affirmed and validated through this program will view themselves—and be viewed—as a vital part of the health care delivery team.

On a broader level, it’s hoped CHEST certification will be the impetus for creating well-defined career paths for environmental services technicians who may have believed, when looking for career advancement, that there is nowhere for them to go within their organizations.

Join us at EXCHANGE 2015 this September, where we’ll officially unveil this exciting new program. Thanks to the many contributors and experts who have already given so much to advance environmental services and help AHE in its mission to contribute to quality outcomes and healthy communities.

What They're Saying

AHE gathered opinions of health care leaders from across the country who all said they wanted a program such as CHEST. AHE found that the chief reason among the many was the strong desire to institute nationally accepted evidence-based cleaning protocols—processes that will help them improve efficacy.

Placed throughout this article are just a few comments from environmental services leaders.

“Certification is very important as technicians are asked to perform very technical duties. Having the credentials to affirm their knowledge could be seen as validation of their skills.”

“Besides the standardization of processes and adherence to infection control practices, the professional recognition would be invaluable.”

“I think this is a great concept to take our profession to another level. It is also another way to show that our staff is a key component to infection prevention.”

“I feel that it is extremely important that I provide resources and tools to enhance my employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities, and to enable greater alignment with our organization’s goals.”

“I think this is a great idea in the critical environment of health care, especially in the area of infection control. Practically every other discipline in health care requires some sort of certification... environmental services technician certification would only enhance the patient experience and organizational reputation.”