FAQ about Asthma Educators (AE-Cs)
Why would someone choose to become certified as an Asthma Educator?
It shows a major commitment to the area of asthma and documents expertise. With certification, there is increased knowledge, recognition for skills and abilities, focus on asthma, increased authority (becoming “the expert”), and improved job/personal satisfaction from increased ability to help a large group of patients, and increased / expanded job opportunities.
What benefits might an employer expect by hiring an AE-C?
AE-C recognition brings an employee with increased focus and expertise about asthma who can become a true “asthma coach” for patients / families. Likely benefits include improved asthma patient compliance and outcomes, expanded influence in the community and schools, recogni-tion of your practice as provider of an excellent asthma care program, improved income from billable asthma teaching activities, enhanced ability to utilize spirometry effectively in the office, and possible incentive payments from payers when contracting.
How does a person become certified as an AE-C? How long does it take?
You must take and pass the certification exam. Most applicants take a preparation course and often a self-test to assess readiness to take the exam. The on-line preparation course takes at least 10 hours; every applicant studies in a different way and has a different amount of time available to devote to this effort. Applicants generally spend several months preparing. The exam is given at local on-line testing centers around the country throughout the year.
How much does the certification process cost?
Exam registration is done by following the “Register Online” link at www.naecb.com. Preparation courses are available through the Association of Asthma Educators at www.asthmaeducators.org/Asthma-Education-Courses, Kettering Seminars at www.ketteringseminars.com/seminars/aec.aspx, and the American Association for Respiratory Care at www.learning.aarc.org/store/seminar/sminar.php?seminar=53007.
Courses cost different amounts and may require travel for in-person courses (which do allow questions/discussion with course faculty).
What does the exam cover?
The exam covers all aspects of asthma biology, clinical presentation, assessment, and management for both adults and children.
How long is the exam? What is the pass rate for first-time takers?
The exam consists of 175 questions; the pass rate is generally around 65%.
What roles do AE-Cs play?
An AE-C can work in almost any health-care setting with asthma patients – inpatient or outpatient, acute or chronic care, being Independent or part of a team and full-time or part-time. They may function at multiple sites and can undertake program leadership /development.
How many AE-Cs are there?
As of early 2016 there are 3527 AE-Cs listed on the www.naecb.com website.
What resources exist for AE-Cs?
There are multiple resources for continuing education and problem-solving for an AE-C through many professional and non-profit organizations such as the Association of Asthma Educators (www.asthmaeducator.org), the Allergy and Asthma Network (www.aan.org), the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and immunology (www.aaaai.org), the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestnet.org), the American Thoracic Society (www.thoracic.org) and the American Association of Respiratory Care (www.aarc.org). The main benefit is how focused on asthma the newly-certified AE-C is or will become.
How long does certification last and how can it be maintained?
Certification lasts 7 years without continuing education; however, completion of prescribed continuing education credits every 5 years will allow virtually permanent certification.
What do AE-Cs do? Is there patient contact? What venues are involved?
Most AE-Cs work in an environment that is strongly or completely asthma-focused. It involves hands-on teaching of patients and families about asthma, its assessment and management, along with correct medication/device usage. It involves completion of prescriptions and paperwork for schools and care facilities. Asthma medication approvals require compliance with formularies and, frequently, prior authorizations. Many AE-Cs function to help families navigate their health coverage to actually get what they need for effective asthma care. AE-Cs often teach asthma principles to school nurses, coaches and other professionals and lay audiences (ie, parent-teacher groups). Patient / family teaching can be done individually or in group settings at a variety of locations (hospital, office, school, home, health fairs, etc. and hopefully soon by telemedicine links)
Can the AE-C bill for services they provide?
Yes, asthma education is a billable service. It can be performed in a variety of settings, not just in an office or clinic. There are particular billing codes for the variety of services. Different health plans reimburse educator services differently.
Does the AE-C recognition improve one’s salary or professional value?
The impact of certification depends on one’s other skills and education/training/certifications. It is a certification that is increasing in prominence and recognition. It documents an individual’s broad understanding and expertise in the area of asthma. AE-Cs occupy a wide distribution of jobs with widely variable job descriptions and responsibilities.