Hawks earns high score on health education exam

Moab’s Dr. Steve Hawks recently passed the master certified health education specialist (MCHES) exam, achieving the highest score of all exam participants this spring. Dr. Hawks served for many years as the dean and executive director for Utah State University’s Moab campus, and recently stepped down from that role to return to teaching in USU’s new Master of Public Health graduate degree program.

According to a press release from Utah State University, total numbers for exam participants have not been released for spring 2018 yet, but from the fall 2017 exam 42 participants passed the MCHES exam, and 900 passed the certified health education specialist (CHES) exam, a prerequisite for the MCHES exam.

The MCHES exam is administered by the National Commission for Healthcare Education Credentialing (NCHEC), a commission established to enhance the professional practice of health education by promoting and sustaining a credentialed body of health education specialists. Careers in public health and healthcare education are increasingly requiring the CHES certification, and for universities it is important to exhibit the commitment and aptitude faculty members have in the field to maintain accreditation.

“I am a firm believer in credentialing for health educators and was very interested in pursuing the MCHES credential once I made the decision to return to the faculty,” said Hawks on his decision to pursue the master certification. “I was relieved to pass the MCHES exam and am proud to be a member of the health education profession in good standing! I look forward to supporting our MPH students in their professional development, including the pursuit of certification as a health education specialist.”

Dr. Hawks passed the CHES exam earlier in his career, and upon returning to teaching after his time in an administrative role determined he should further his certification through the MCHES exam. He began preparing for the exam several months before the test date, setting aside time each day to read through the preparation materials, and taking practice tests. During the weeks leading up to the test date his efforts increased, and eventually paid off allowing him to achieve the high score for his group.

The exams administered by the NCHEC consist of 165 questions covering seven main areas of responsibility for healthcare educators: 1) Assess needs, resources and capacity for health education/promotion; 2) Plan health education/promotion; 3) Implement health education/promotion; 4) Conduct evaluation and research related to health education/promotion; 5) Administer and manage health education/promotion; 6) Serve as a health education/promotion resource person; 7) Communicate, promote and advocate for health and the profession of health education/promotion.

Dr. Hawks is a professor of health education and promotion in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science at Utah State University. He received an EdD in Health Science, an MBA with an emphasis in international business, and an MA and BA in East Asian Studies—all from Brigham Young University. As a health education faculty member, his career has spanned four universities including East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, Brigham Young University, and Utah State University. This fall he will return to teaching courses in health administration, health policy, maternal and child health, and (his true love) global health. Research interests will continue to focus on the nutrition transition in developing countries.