Volume 26, No. 2: T-E-A-M! (Together Everyone Achieves More)

Obtaining Career Ready Credentials for Health Science Students

Lyndsey McDonald, CTE Division Director, National Healthcareer Association

Earning an industry-recognized credential helps students access a better future, whether they wish to further their education in college or launch their careers upon high school graduation. However, many school districts are unaware that national certification in a number of allied health fields is available to health science students prior to graduation.

That’s why leaders at National Healthcareer Association (NHA) are traveling to conferences like NCPN—to let educators and administrators know national certification is attainable by high school students and that NHA has tools that will help their programs prepare students to earn their work-ready credentials.

Empowering students to access a better future—this is what NHA is all about. Since 2010, more than 2700 allied health educational programs have provided their graduates with the option to earn an industry-recognized credential from NHA, making NHA one of the largest certification providers in the country with more than 500,000 certifications awarded nationwide.

NHA works with both secondary and postsecondary healthcare training programs to help prepare graduates for high-demand allied health professions.

“We teach students real skills and prepare them for real experiences that can be used no matter what they decide to do after high school,” said Cindy Robinson, health science teacher at Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler, Texas. “It’s a great stepping stone to a college degree, and it’s a great way to pay for a college degree. And some are ready for full-time employment if they want that.”

Robinson has 21 years of nursing experience in addition to her tenure at Robert E. Lee. She’s seen first-hand the opportunities students have once they graduate with a national certification, including career growth opportunities as well as increased employer satisfaction and higher retention rates.

It’s a win-win situation. Healthcare employers are getting qualified professionals and high school graduates are adding valuable experience to their resumes, or even launching their careers. However, it’s an opportunity that goes underutilized simply because of a lack of awareness.

NHA seeks to improve the quality of healthcare by establishing a national standard for entry-level healthcare professions. They offer eight National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredited certification exams recognized by thousands of healthcare providers across the country. Through partnerships with career and technical education programs, NHA helps communities fill their in-demand healthcare jobs with qualified workers right out of high school.

To be eligible for NHA certification, students must complete an approved training program and be scheduled to graduate from an accredited high school or GED program. Students can take an NHA certification exam and receive a Provisional Certification up to 12 months before graduation.

A Provisional Certification is a placeholder and is intended to allow candidates to take certification exams as near as possible to the time they complete their training. Candidates must hold a high school diploma or its equivalency in order to receive a standard (full) certification.

Additionally, NHA offers study materials that schools can use to help their students succeed. For example, according to Greg Stanfield, Dean of Education at Stevens-Henager College in West Haven, Utah, students enrolled in Stevens-Henager’s healthcare programs are given access to numerous NHA resources to help prepare for their certification exams. Stanfield reports remarkable results. “Our students are getting great jobs in the public and private sectors, and the certifications are helping them earn promotions and achieve raises. These jobs mean a lot to our students and their families.”

NHA helps school districts and health science instructors navigate the industry certification process. If you’re interested in offering NHA certification exams in your district, call 844.246.1045 for more information.


Author Lyndsey McDonald, NHA’s CTE Division Director, presented at the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) conference in Dallas, Texas, in the fall of 2015. Lyndsey leads a team of NHA healthcare education consultants who assist local districts across the country to implement a national certification process into their health science programs. Lyndsey’s team also helps to ensure student success by educating teachers about effective preparation practices and resources. Prior to her role as division director, Lyndsey was a certification specialist overseeing secondary and postsecondary partnerships for the eastern United States. Lyndsey has also worked as a state legislative consultant at the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), where she maintained relationships between APSCU and state-level private sector college associations. Lyndsey graduated from American University and resides in Portland, Maine.

For more information, contact the author at Lyndsey.McDonald@nhanow.com.