Today, I am taking the opportunity to reflect on the year I have served you as NAHQ’s president. In many ways, 2022 has been a natural extension of the work I started doing years ago. If you have ever been involved in local chapter leadership, I am sure you will relate.

It was in 2007 that I decided to attend a local healthcare quality chapter meeting in Washington, D.C. As usual, I was early, so I introduced myself to staff. Later that night, I was asked if I would like to fill an opening on the chapter’s board of directors. I agreed and was assigned the role of president-elect. Sometimes availability is a skill set. Then, just prior to my very first board meeting, the treasurer called to tell me the current president could no longer fill the role and, “congratulations,” I was the new president. I may have fallen into healthcare quality leadership, but I knew I owed it to myself and the others to be more intentional from that point on.

Over the last decade or so, it has been my goal and my privilege to gently coerce as many people as I can into earning their CPHQ credential. As a reader of this column, you know that I have featured non-traditional and, in many cases, non-clinical healthcare quality leaders for whom earning their CPHQ has been an important milestone on their professional journey. It has been my mission ever since earning my own CPHQ to bring as many healthcare professionals to NAHQ and the credential as possible. And, because I do not have a clinical background, I have paid particular attention to quality professionals without a clinical background themselves.

You see, I believe that every healthcare professional who is dedicated first and foremost to quality patient care and safety, needs to study for their CPHQ. It is a career game-changer that not only elevates our work but demonstrates our commitment to advancing the practice. As we have heard over the last year, the CPHQ opens doors to career opportunities we might otherwise not have because it gives us credibility. That is why so many healthcare quality professionals value their CPHQ at the same level as their advanced degrees.

However, not everyone finds studying for their CPHQ to be easy. I can relate. When I began the process, I thought of myself as a poor test taker. I was intimidated, but I had a plan. It went something like this:

  1. I set a date 18 months in the future to sit for my exam. I committed to sitting by that date – no exceptions and no excuses.
  2. I picked up a copy of HQ Solutions and read from it every day.
  3. I took the pre-test to determine where I had room for growth. Those areas became the focus of my study.
  4. I reached out to other CPHQs to ask for study tips.
  5. I formed a study group and we each became expert tutors of one another in the individual domains of the exam.
  6. I worked on my confidence and reminded myself often that I could do this.
  7. When I finally sat for the exam, I did not tell anyone I was doing it. I just did it.
  8. When I was notified officially that I was a CPHQ, I started using the designation immediately.

Having earned my CPHQ, I was motivated to encourage others to do the same. Since then, I have mentored at least 50 other professionals to earn the CPHQ. When they do, I remind them, as I remind all of you, that it is our professional obligation to bring as many people to the CPHQ as possible. We do this not only for their sake, but for the care of the patient and the advancement of the organizations they serve.

Leadership is a subjective thing. Even though, at the time, I did not have an official role with NAHQ, the minute I had my CPHQ, I became an advocate – literally. When my boss first noticed CPHQ after my name on an email, he asked me about it. I spent several hours talking to him about NAHQ and over time he also became a supporter. He now requires his healthcare quality professionals to have the CPHQ. So, in many ways, I was riding with NAHQ before NAHQ even knew who I was.

I was very gratified to accept the invitation to be considered for the NAHQ board of directors when the time came. I serve with a brilliant group of people which I respect, admire, and count on for their wisdom. As we have engaged in crucial conversations, we are able to consider all perspectives and come to consensus on decisions benefitting quality and safety professionals and advancing healthcare quality throughout the world. I am so grateful to all of them and to you for the confidence you have had in me.

As I turn the gavel over to Nidia Williams, PhD, MBB, CPHQ, FNAHQ, I am excited by what she will bring to NAHQ as your 2023 president. Nidia is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent people I know. And most importantly, she is a listener. I know she will take every opportunity to listen to you and work with the board, our executive director and CEO Stephanie Mercado, and wonderful staff, to proactively meet your needs. And I will be there too, cheering her on.

For all of you riding with NAHQ, thank you so much for your support. Not only do we do what we do for you, we can only do what we do because of you. Happy New Year and cheers to our bright future.

Emmett T. Ervin, MPA, CPHQ
NAHQ President

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