Earn Your Consumer Health Information Specialization for Free

Jamia Williams, Consumer Health Program Specialist and Liz Morris, Outreach and Access Coordinator Network of the National Library of Medicine /

It’s well established that library workers are essential partners in promoting community health. Libraries provide access to resources on health insurance coverage and other public benefits. Libraries partner as information first responders, including during the COVID-19 crisis. Libraries promote consumer health and health literacy through their collections and programs and invest in the well-being of their communities.

Now is an excellent time for more library workers to obtain their Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS). This specialization, developed by the Medical Library Association (MLA), “offers training in providing health information services to consumers and recognition for the accomplishment of acquiring new health information skills.”  MLA works closely with the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) to make the continuing education requirements for Level I and/or Level II CHIS certification accessible to all. NNLM provides free CHIS eligible coursework and covers the cost of the CHIS application fee for library staff and students located in their national network.

Here is the CHIS certification process broken down for you in five easy steps:

  • Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the CHIS specialization details at the MLA website or the NNLM website.
  • Step 2: Download the CHIS Competencies Tracking Grid (doc) to prioritize the free courses you will take to earn Level I and/or Level II CHIS. You must complete Level I before completing Level II (though you are not required to complete both levels).
  • Step 3: Sign-up for free, CHIS eligible classes offered by NNLM. (See the “How to Earn CHIS Credits” tab.) This will prompt you to create a free NNLM user account if you don’t already have one.
  • Step 4: Take the classes and work towards the certification at your own pace. You have 3 years to complete a credential, which is good for another 3 years once awarded. Be sure to follow all prompts to access and save the continuing education certificates offered at the end of each course. This will prompt you to create a free MedLib-Ed account if you don’t already have one.
  • Step 5: After you’ve completed all course work, and have saved your continuing education credits, fill out the NNLM sponsorship form. NNLM will follow-up with you to process your CHIS application and fee.

Once you’ve obtained your specialization and received your digital badge, you can update your email signature, business cards, LinkedIn profile, resume, and all your other professional communications indicating your consumer health expertise. According to MLA, “by earning your CHIS, you acquire skills and knowledge needed to become a confident, expert provider of health information to your community. Your CHIS shows employers, colleagues, and the public you serve that you are committed to offering quality consumer health information services and to staying current with developments in consumer health information resources, technologies, and services.” Enjoy your certification journey!

Questions? Need support? Contact the NNLM Training Office for additional guidance.