In every profession, you have titles, licenses and certifications. In the world of asthma, the goal is to be a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C).
If you want to learn more about asthma, you want to learn from the best, right?!
That's where an AE-C comes in. An AE-C is a voluntary certification in the U.S., so, those of us that have studied for and passed the exam do it because we want to be known as an expert in the field. (I didn't even get a raise after passing the exam and getting my certification!)
It's not a easy exam (only 65% of people who take the exam actually pass it), and it's not cheap (I paid $350 to take the exam) and it takes about 3 hours. Did I mention that it's not an easy test? There are only about 3,500 AE-C's in the US that have passed the exam (that's not many considering there are over 25 million people here that have asthma! )
How do you qualify to take the exam? NAECB (The National Asthma Educator Certification Board) says you are eligible IF:
1. You are a licensed or credentialed health care professionals OR
2. You provide professional direct patient asthma education and counseling with a minimum of 1,000 hours experience in these activities.
NAECB lists the following currently licensed or credentialed health care professionals that qualify for the exam under #1.
Physicians (MD, DO)
Physician Assistants (PA-C)
Nurse Practitioners (NP)
Nurses (RN, LPN)
Respiratory Therapists (RRT, CRT)
Pulmonary Function Technologists (CPFT, RPFT)
Social Workers (CSW)
Health Educators (CHES)
Physical Therapists (PT)
Occupational Therapists (OT)
I fit under category #1, and was able to take (and pass!) the AE-C exam because I am a Health Educator and had a rigorous course study for my 4 year Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree. My classes included: first aid, anatomy and physiology, biology, physical science, behavioral science, epidemiology, human diseases, medical terminology, ethics, health and diversity, environmental health, modifying health behavior, research methods, bio- statistics, etc.
Once I made it through all those classes and graduated in Public Health, I could sit for the CHES exam through NCHEC. (This is also a $300 exam that takes 3 hour and also has a low pass rate.) It also means you are top in the field of Public Health. To maintain my CHES, I must re-certify with 75 continuing education (CE) credit hours over a 5 year period. I have to keep my CHES credential current to keep my AE-C current. With the AE-C credential, you need 35 hours of CE credits over 5 years. So that's 110 hours of CE credits.....every 5 years.
What does all this mean?
It means that anyone who takes the test must have at least a bachelors degree and some pretty intense classes in hard science, health, and medical field.
AND once you pass it, you must continue to learn more by attending webinars from Allergy & Asthma Network , the EPA, state health department asthma programs, etc. This helps us learn more about the latest research, medications, changes to the guidelines, and much more.
I also attend the National Association of Asthma Educators conference.
It means learning, and then learning some more.
And I'm suddenly feeling tired that I have done so much!
So, if you are lucky enough to work with a Certified Asthma Educator, know that they are highly educated and trained, and must continue to learn more and stay updated so they can share that information with their clients.
And with that, I am going to take a nap. I am tired.