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Lolli: CHES Certification Opens Career Doors

Bridget Lolli is a MPH alumna who recently received her CHES certification and currently holds two health professions jobs. She is a nurse clinician at the Thompson Center for Autism and a nutrition coach at Crossfit Fringe. Lolli says her CHES certification will help her succeed in both her roles and possibly open more career doors in her future.

Can you tell us about your job responsibilities in both of your positions?

As a nurse clinician, I provide nursing care for our patient population in clinic and as a phone triage contact. In addition, I am the research nurse on all trials requiring the use of a nurse. Finally, I am a part of the training division and serve as the medical trainer when the team goes to medical entities for presentations and training.

As a nutrition coach, I work one-on-one with clients looking to improve their health through nutrition. This might mean losing weight, gaining weight or muscle, or refining their overall nutrition intake.

Why did you decide to become a Certified Health Education Specialist?

I wanted to become a Certified Health Education Specialist because I have a passion for health education, especially at the primary prevention level in healthcare. I want to help others learn how to lead healthy lives through proper nutrition, exercise, and self-care, so becoming a Certified Health Education Specialist felt like the right next step because I wanted to show I have the qualifications to do this. 

What does your CHES certification mean to you?

The CHES certification to me means that I have the competency to help educate individuals with behavior change associated with a health behavior. As a nurse with the CHES, I am more of a patient educator and resource manager now than a nurse. A lot of what I do is counsel patients on managing their medical needs, finding resources to help them with daily living skills, and critically think  to adapt a health care plan to each patient’s need level. The CHES has given me the tools to successfully achieve these duties.

What was the process of preparing for the exam like for you?

I read through the Mometrix CHEW Exam Secrets Study Guide and took the practice test. When there were specific areas that I felt I needed to brush up on, I read through credible resources I could find online (for example, all the difference behavior change theories).

Do you have any tips for future health sciences/public health graduates who are planning on taking the CHES exam?

I would suggest taking it as closely to your schooling as you can. I took it five years after I graduated with my MPH, so some of the basic information I had learned was not as fresh in my brain as it would have been closer to graduation.

 In what ways do you think being CHES certified will benefit you now and in the future?

I think that being CHES certified will help open doors in my career and give me opportunities I would not have had before. There are certain jobs that require a CHES certification to even be considered. Additionally, I feel employers will see that I have earned the CHES certification, which means that I went the extra step to improve my skills in promoting positive behavior change in populations. In taking that initiative, I hope employers will realize I am passionate about public health and  helping others achieve their maximum wellness and health.

As a CHES, you are required to obtain 75 continuing education credits, which are beneficial for staying up-to-date on practice changes. For me, I have chosen to participate in classes and conferences that pertain to my current positions. Currently, I am taking an online course in sports nutrition, which clearly relates to my job as a nutrition coach. Evidence-based practice guidelines change every year, and I am taking the opportunity of the continuing education credits to make sure I stay on top of the best way to approach my duties as a CHES.