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Vigna: CHES Certification Adds Credibility

Brittany Vigna is an alumna of the MPH program and recently passed her CHES certification exam. She is Assistant Director of Health Promotion and Wellness at the University of Alabama. She’s putting her certification to work, and has some insight for others considering CHES.

Name: Brittney Vigna

Credentials: MPH, CHES, CPH

Employer: The University of Alabama

Job Title: Assistant Director of Health Promotion and Wellness

Job Description:

-Develop 60 hours of on-campus health and wellness programming per week, averaging 36,000 interactions per year.

-Manage 160 undergraduate peer health educators, one of the largest groups in the country.

– Serve as campus and community health and wellness expert and resource person

– Develop and coordinate the annual Wellness Week, a weeklong programming week of 8-10 on campus health and wellness events

– Coordinate the Financial Health Strategic Health team, comprised of campus and community stakeholders

– Serve on campus, national and regional campus health boards and coalitions, including BACCHUS and ACHA’s Campus Safety and Violence Coalition

Why did you become a Certified Health Education Specialist? It was required for my position to get the CHES credential, but becoming CHES certified was something that I had always planned to do.

What does your CHES certification mean to you? Having my CHES is important to me because it adds another layer of credentialing to my MPH. Working in Higher Ed, credentialing is huge, so it helps other people know that I am a reliable and credible source for health information. Additionally, in today’s society, the terminology “health educator” or “wellness coach” or even “health expert” is used in a pretty relaxed manner. For example, in multi-level marketing products such as BeachBody, Plexus, or Advocare. A majority of these products are not clinically evaluated or approved by the FDA, yet because of their presence on social media, those who do not have high levels of health literacy may look to these companies or marketers as a reliable source of health information. Having my CHES lets other people know that I have a deeper understanding of public health and the principles, evidence based practices, and skills that constitute of public health educator.

What does your CHES certification mean to your employer? It was a requirement for my position to get my CHES. I believe they value ensuring our health education program is providing accurate, reliable and realistic health information to students, and the CHES credential provides that added layer of security.

CHES TIP: The CHES exam is something to definitely take right out of the public health program! Studying for the exam if you are far removed from the program is extremely difficult. The Essentials textbook series is EXTREMELY HELPFUL!