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National Health Science Standards & Objectives

Align Your Health Science Curriculum to the National Health Science Standards

The health science standards offer an answer to the question, “What does a worker need to know and be able to contribute to the delivery of safe and effective healthcare?” The standards represent core expectations transferrable to many health professions.

The standards provide:

  • Measurable accountability communicated in a user-friendly manner to educators and students
  • A comprehensive curriculum framework for course designs and assessment construction
  • Validation on timely basis by stakeholders: individuals representing business/industry, professional organizations, credentialing and state education agencies

National Health Science Standards Allow:

Organization & Institution Membership

Students and parents to have clear direction to help set goals for future employment

Quality & Consistent Curriculum

Educators are able to design quality curriculum and instruction consistent with industry expectations

Efficient Healthcare Delivery

Consumers and employers benefit from high quality, efficient healthcare delivery from well-trained workers

Historical Background

In 1992 in collaboration with Far West Research Laboratory, the National Consortium for Health Science Education (NCHSE) (formerly NCHSTE, the National Consortium on Health Science and Technology Education) was awarded a three-year $1.4 million dollar grant by the U.S. Department of Education to establish National Healthcare Skill Standards. The grant was one of twenty-two issued collaboratively by the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor to establish common standards for industry sectors that employ the largest number of the working population.

The resultant eleven common healthcare foundation standards and four career pathway standard sets; Diagnostic, Therapeutic, Environmental and Health Information, provided the basis for all other consortium curriculum related materials. During the process more than 1,000 healthcare employers, college and university faculty, secondary teachers and professional organization representatives provided input to identify common practices, reviewed the content for each standard, and pilot tested the results within their agency or organization. Dissemination of the National Healthcare Skill Standards began in September 1995 at an unveiling reception in Washington, DC with policy makers and pilot site representatives in attendance.

After extensive discussion, it was agreed that the career pathway standards would be organized by function rather than job title to create a more manageable grouping. Once the standards were completed a “Setting the Bar Summit” was held to add accountability criteria or performance measures to the foundation standards. These criteria were intended to further describe each standard and to be used as a basis for curriculum design and standards assessment. More than sixty employers, representatives from professional associations, and educators both secondary and postsecondary participated in the work at the Summit.

A second “Setting the Bar Summit” was held in 2002 to reevaluate the career pathway standards and add accountability criteria for each. As a result several of the career pathways were renamed and a fifth pathway was added; Health Information was changed to Health Informatics, Environmental Services was changed to Support Services and Biotechnology Research and Development was added. Revisions and additions to the standards were made and accountability criteria for each standard were developed.

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