The Alliance Certification Program for Healthcare CPD Professionals: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Aligning Content for the New Exam with the Evolving CPD Profession

By: Karen Overstreet, EdD, RPh, FACEHP, CHCP Chair, Alliance CHCP Certification Commission, and Sarah Meadows, MS, FACEHP, CHCP Vice Chair, Alliance CHCP Certification Commission

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Rationale for a New Form of the CHCP Exam

The Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions (Alliance) recently announced updates to the Certified Healthcare CPD Professional (CHCP) certification program. The Alliance’s CHCP Certification Commission (Table 1) is working hard with its Exam Development Committee (Table 2) to create a new form of the CHCP exam to reflect interprofessional practice and the updated National Learning Competencies (NLCs).

Table 1. Members of the CHCP Certification Commission

Karen Overstreet, EdD, RPh, FACEHP, CHCP Commission Chair
Sarah Meadows, MS, FACEHP, CHCP Commission Vice Chair
Jan Schultz, RN, MSN, FACEHP, CHCP Chair, Eligibility Review Committee
Rebecca DeVivo, MPH, MSW, CHCP Alliance Board of Directors Liason

Table 2. CHCP Exam Development Committee Members*

Frank Berry, CHCP Maryland State Medical Society
Caroline Pardo, PhD, CHCP PRIME Education
Eric Peterson, EdM, FACEHP, CHCP American Academy of Physician Assistants
Brooke Taylor, MPH, FACEHP, CHCP Beaumont Health
SarahAnn Whitbeck, MBA, CHCP Chest Wall Injury Society

*Committee Chair: Karen Overstreet, EdD, RPh, FACEHP, CHCP

Our goal is to ensure that the knowledge and skills evaluated in the exam fully align with those that competent CPD professionals need to perform their roles successfully. The new exam will first be administered during the March 2018 testing window. 

What’s New?

The updates to the exam allow the Alliance to further support healthcare education professionals in promoting best practices that improve interdisciplinary clinician performance and patient outcomes. The new version of the exam strengthens the alignment of CPD for clinicians with improving patient care. Taking the CHCP exam allows individuals to demonstrate to themselves, their peers and their employers that they are a dedicated CPD professional actively seeking to advance continuing education for healthcare professionals.

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A Rigorous Process by Peers

To build on and update the current CHCP exam — first offered in June 2008, now in its third iteration — the Alliance CHCP Certification Commission undertook a comprehensive job analysis in February 2017 to determine the relevance, validity and legal defensibility of the CHCP certification program by establishing a correlation between what competent CHCPs do on the job and successful examination performance. This rigorous process was led by Schroeder Measurement Technologies, a company that provides comprehensive exam development and administration services to certification organizations and licensing agencies and who has worked with the CHCP (formerly CCMEP) exam since its inception. In addition, 19 volunteers (all CHCPs, including physicians, pharmacists and nurses working in myriad types of organizations related to CPD) participated in the job analysis.

Following the completion of the job analysis in spring 2017, the CHCP Certification Commission reviewed and approved the findings and updated the exam content outline to reflect the recommendations of the job analysis team and ensure alignment with the NLCs. The Commission’s Exam Development Committee then worked with more than 20 volunteer subject matter experts (all CHCPs) to write questions for the new exam, based on best practices in item writing.

Content Outline

The new CHCP exam will include test questions in four content areas (the full content outline is provided in Table 3):

    1. Adult and Interprofessional Learning Principles (15%)
    2. Educational Activity Planning, Development, Implementation and Evaluation (33%)
    3. Program Leadership, Administration and Management (33%)
    4. Knowledge of the Healthcare CPD Environment (19%)

Exam Format

The exam will continue to include 160 four-option multiple-choice items, with 150 items scored and 10 that are not scored. As in the past, the exam will be closed book and will be administered at secure testing facilities that can be found at more than 200 locations throughout the U.S.  

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Table 3. Content Outline for the 2018 CHCP Exam

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Adult and Interprofessional Learning Principles (15%, 22 items)

  • Apply currently accepted theory and evidence regarding how healthcare professionals learn, including:
    • Self-directed learning
    • Formal learning
    • Informal/incidental learning
    • Application of adult learning principles (e.g., andragogy versus pedagogy)
    • Psychosocial factors and stage of practice (e.g., age, gender, years in practice)
  • Apply evidence to promote improved practice for individual healthcare professionals, including:
    • Stages healthcare professionals go through to change
    • Clinicians’ learning preferences
    • Nature of instructional interventions that facilitate change (such as improvements in knowledge, competence and performance) for individuals
  • Apply evidence to promote improved practice for healthcare teams, including:
    • Stages that healthcare teams go through to change
    • Learning preferences of team members; differences among team members in learning styles
    • Nature of instructional interventions that facilitate change (such as improvements in knowledge, competence and performance) for teams
  • Apply organizational learning principles that facilitate learning and change in CEhp

Educational Activity Planning, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation (33%, 50 items)

  • Perform and analyze results of gap analyses and assessment of underlying educational needs
    • Conduct gap analyses
    • Perform needs assessment using multiple sources (e.g., expert interviews, practice data, quality metrics, literature evaluation)
    • Evaluate the results of the assessments to guide educational planning
  • Identify target audience(s) and their professional competencies that are relevant to the needed education
  • Create learning objectives that reflect desired learner change using models including
    • Bloom's Taxonomy of learning domains
    • SMART format (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound)
  • Design and/or supervise the development of educational activities including:
    • Identify appropriate instructional formats
      • Live activities
      • Enduring materials
      • Journal-based activities
      • Test item writing
      • Manuscript review activities
      • Practice/performance improvement activities
      • Internet point-of-care activities
    • Identifies the instructional content scope, sequence and required resources
    • Evaluate funding options (e.g., educational funding, grant funding, facilities-based funding, learner-based fees)
    • Identify subject matter experts/faculty including:
      • Evaluation of credentials/expertise
      • Identification and resolution of conflicts of interest
      • Determination of honoraria and anticipated expenses
  • Oversee, assist with and/or supervise educational content development
  • Design, implement and analyze the results of the educational activities including:
    • Identifying levels of outcomes (e.g., Moore's levels of outcomes) and stages of learning to be measured
    • Determining the methods for the assessment (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods)
    • Performing the assessment
    • Analyzing and reporting on the results

Program Leadership, Administration and Management (33%, 50 items)

  • Use project management strategies and methods to plan and implement educational activities
  • Understand the principles of organizational leadership including:
    • Following program management principles including:
      • Creating and following a mission/vision statement
      • Planning educational activities and curricula
    • Assess projects using continuous assessment and improvement protocols
    • Manage changes to processes, requirements, etc.
    • Operate within relevant codes of ethics and industry best practices
  • Understand and apply systems thinking to healthcare educational interventions, including an understanding of:
    • Learners in the context of healthcare systems
    • Barriers to optimal care
    • The role of the interdisciplinary team
    • Identification of organizational needs and goals
    • The role CPD can play in healthcare systems
  • Administer and manage the CPD program including:
    • Managing resources including:
      • Finances
      • Personnel
      • Faculty
      • Materials
    • Managing relationships with stakeholders, both internal and external
    • Ensuring transparency in the administration and assessment of educational activities
    • Managing records
    • Sharing data appropriately; planning for publication and presentation of data
    • Complying with legal requirements including:
      • Contractual obligations
      • Letters of agreement
      • Regulations (e.g., federal and state)
      • Compliance reporting
    • Participate in professional development (e.g., self-assessment and life-long learning)
    • Comply with the requirements of accreditation agencies (e.g., ANCC, ACPE, ACCME
      • Criteria
      • Policies and procedures
      • Standards for Commercial Support
    • Use credit designation metrics and statements appropriately

Knowledge of the Healthcare CPD Environment (19%, 28 items)

  • Support maintenance of licensure requirements by physicians, pharmacists, nurses, physician assistants and other healthcare professionals
  • Support maintenance of certification requirements for healthcare professionals
  • Understand the roles and responsibilities of regulatory and other agency guidelines, rules, and laws (e.g., FDA, Office of the Inspector General, JCAHO, HIPAA)
  • Follow accreditation standards
  • Operate in a patient-centered framework to improve patient care
  • Differentiate between promotional and non-promotional activities
  • Understand the role of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Board of Medical Specialties
  • Understand quality improvement, and practice and performance improvement initiatives
  • Monitor CPD activities and report on areas of non-compliance
  • Implement a process to monitor for and address data inaccuracies in CPD activities
  • Understand external factors affecting the CPD environment (e.g., the media, the government)
  • Abide by all laws related to CPD activities (e.g., fraud, abuse, anti-kickback, Stark law)
  • Abide by Open Payment rules (Physician Payment Sunshine Act) and reporting requirements

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