Q&A with a CHCP

Carla J. Brink, MS, CHCP is a Director, Scientific Projects at American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). As one of three Scientific Project Directors (SPDs) in Project Management in the ASHP Office of Professional Development, Brink coordinates the content development of commercially supported CE activities. She earned her CHCP credential as one of the December 2017 cohort of exam takers. Here, Brink talks about her decision to become a CHCP, enacting the principle of lifelong learning that forms the cornerstone of her work in CPD.

How long have you worked in CME?

I’ve worked in the continuing education field for 15 years, initially as a contractor for ASHP and for the past five years as a full-time ASHP staff member. I am a pharmacist by training. I transitioned into education after doing freelance writing and editing in the healthcare field for over 20 years. ASHP is accredited by ACPE and ACCME to provide education for pharmacists and physicians, and we currently partner with other providers, as needed, to reach other healthcare professionals.

What motivated you to pursue the CHCP credential?

While I’m not new to the CPD arena, I am a relative newcomer to the Alliance. I first learned about the CHCP credential three or four years ago when my SPD colleagues and I were investigating options for professional development. Right away I began completing the worksheet, and I realized that, while I had a lot of experience, I was lacking in some areas. I was excited about this as an opportunity, though, and the next year I presented an informal seminar about both the CPD Associate Certificate and CHCP credential for about ten of my ASHP colleagues. I joined the Alliance and attended the 2016 Annual Conference. Besides the professional development, I also was motivated to “practice what you preach.” As an organization, ASHP recognizes Board of Pharmacy Specialties certification and other certificate programs as being important for advancement of the pharmacy profession, and it’s also important for the CPD profession. Plus, as a parent of young adults, I can model lifelong learning.

What is the most important benefit being a CHCP to you as a CE/CPD professional?

The CHCP credential provided me with a tangible personal goal for professional development, and now I have the satisfaction of achieving that. While preparing for the exam, I delved into aspects of the profession that were new to me, and it helped provide the “why” behind some things that I was doing. That broader context will be valuable as I plan upcoming activities and provide input into ASHP’s continuing education program. I also am motivated to continue my learning for recertification.

What value does your CHCP designation bring to your organization?

The CHCP designation reflects familiarity and minimal competence in all areas of CPD for healthcare professionals. For projects in which I am the assigned SPD, I serve as the contact with the commercial supporter, providing updates on the status of the grant and answering queries as needed. More and more, I have noticed that my supporter contacts have the CHCP credential and, while it is not necessary, my having it lends credibility and a shared experience and knowledge. I am the second CPD professional at ASHP to earn the CHCP designation, and I have offered to serve as a resource for peers who may be considering it.

How did you prepare for the exam?

Not surprisingly, I started by reviewing the domain list and taking the 50-question CALLS practice exam, which helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses. I needed to learn more about adult learning principles, so I started by looking at articles in recent issues of The Journal for Continuing Education in the Health Professions (JCEHP), especially the introduction and discussion sections to see what was being cited. The same names, theories, and studies were mentioned, prompting me to do internet searches to learn more. I took notes on index cards — old school, I know, but it worked for me. As a part of this, I went back to Moore’s 2009 JCEHP article. I had read and referred to that article many times before, but for the first time I studied it, appreciating how it integrated my newfound knowledge of adult learning principles into the seven levels of outcomes. I also found the ACCME website useful, especially information about the standards of commercial support and related guidance documents.

What would you say to someone considering pursuing the CHCP designation?

Do it! It’s worth it on both the personal and professional levels. Even if you are just remotely interested, I suggest reviewing the eligibility worksheet right away so that you can plan to earn points in specific areas, as needed. Also, on an ongoing basis, use the worksheet to record educational sessions related to CPD that you attend because that can be difficult to reconstruct in retrospect. Recognize that the worksheet is not just a matter of documenting points. Rather, it provides a snapshot of what is valued as a healthcare CPD professional, and it can serve as a motivator to get involved in new areas.


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