Working in healthcare? Get certified

There are two certifications offered by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) that are largely underutilized in the design engineering field.

By Dewberry April 1, 2020

The healthcare industry continues to advance, not just in technology, but in awareness of safely maintaining the patient’s experience, and protecting hospital operations. Creating a safe environment to help foster recovery is of the upmost importance for healthcare facility owners and operators. But what about those who spend hours, days, weeks, months, and even years working in healthcare facilities? Those individuals — whether employed by hospitals and medical facilities, or contracted workers — should also be highly concerned about and aware of safety precautions. There are two certifications offered by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) — a nationally recognized organization — including the Certified Healthcare Constructor (CHC) and the Physical Environment Worker (PEW). These certifications are available and largely underutilized in the design engineering field.

These certifications provide facility owners the peace of mind that workers have been heavily trained in safety and basic knowledge of healthcare facility operations. After receiving the certification, you’re able to show experienced project leadership and prove your ability to effectively lead complex healthcare projects.  Additionally, you can help your clients feel more comfortable and confident in who is working at their facilities. The basic PEW certification is a great way to confirm all healthcare field personnel have the necessary fundamental knowledge to safely work in the healthcare environment, for both the patients and themselves. The advanced CHC certification proves seasoned healthcare staff have a solid understanding of the complexities of construction projects and the experience and education to back it up.

ASHE Physical Environment Worker (PEW)

For everyone working in the field at healthcare facilities, the ASHE PEW certification provides confirmation of basic fundamentals for working in and around hospitals, including:

  • Basic practices for construction in healthcare facilities
  • Patient privacy
  • Infection control and prevention
  • Basics of life safety systems in healthcare
  • Basics of utility systems in healthcare.

Applicants must pass a one-hour, timed 75-question exam to obtain the certification. PEW requires no previous experience or education in healthcare construction.

Certified Healthcare Constructor (CHC)

For seasoned healthcare project managers, construction administration staff, and interested design engineers with a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of healthcare project experience, CHC provides verification of a deeper understanding of the challenges in healthcare construction projects, including:

  • Healthcare industry fundamentals
  • Planning, design, and construction processes
  • Interim life safety and infection control risk management processes
  • Healthcare facility and patient safety
  • Financial stewardship
  • Business and organization of healthcare
  • Regulations and guidelines for the built environment
  • Special systems unique to healthcare
  • Special scheduling considerations
  • Quality assurance
  • Diagnostic and treatment equipment
  • Project close-out and occupancy.

The exam emphasizes not only the direct construction knowledge requirements, but also the full impact construction activities have on healthcare facility operations, patient experience, safety, security, and finance.

Of the thousands of professionals working in healthcare construction, currently only 72 have their CHC in North Carolina, and just around 1,200 nationwide.

A two-hour, 100 question proctored exam is required to obtain the certification. The exam is challenging and requires a solid situational understanding of healthcare construction projects. CHC preparation courses are held by ASHE and many state chapter organizations. Additionally, ASHE offers an online self-assessment exam to identify weak points for further study and prepare you for the depth and breadth of the exam.

These two certifications provide additional training for healthcare workers, which ultimately provides improved and more efficient hospital operations, and better and safer patient experiences. Although these certifications are not yet required by most healthcare facilities, obtaining them is in the best interest of employees, families, and patients.

This article originally appeared on Dewberry’s websiteDewberry is a CFE Media content partner.