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30+ Critical Changes to the NCHSE National Health Science Standards for 2019

May 15th, 2019 | 10 min. read

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Do you use the National Health Science Standards (NHSS) to teach your health science classes?

Will your students take the NCHSE National Health Science Assessment at the end of your course?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you’ll need to learn the ins-and-outs of how the standards changed in 2019!

On May 10, 2019, the National Consortium for Health Science Education (NCHSE) announced the newest edition of the National Health Science Standards.

At first glance of the 2019 National Health Science Standards, you’ll notice that the 11 foundation standards stayed the same:

  1. Academic Foundation
  2. Communication
  3. Systems
  4. Employability Skills
  5. Legal Responsibilities
  6. Ethics
  7. Safety Practices
  8. Teamwork
  9. Health Maintenance Practices
  10. Technical Skills
  11. Information Technology in Healthcare

However, you’ll see a slight change in how the standards are structured.

The two structural changes you’ll see throughout the standards are:

  • The naming convention of standards (ex. 1.31 changed to 1.3.1)
  • The use of bullets instead of parentheses when listing related details and concepts

Here’s an example from Foundation Standard 1:


Overall, these structural changes make it much easier to read and understand the National Health Science Standards, which are the basis for the National Health Science Certificate.

In addition to the structural changes across the document, each foundation standard has detailed updates.

These updates fall into three categories according to how each standard was treated in the revision process:

  • Added to the standards
  • Removed from the standards
  • Restructured and reworded details (including updates to verbs based on Bloom's taxonomy)

We’ll dive into the details of these changes for each foundation standard starting with Academic Foundation!

1. Academic Foundation


The Academic Foundation standards help students understand the basics of anatomy, physiology, diseases, disorders, and medical math.

So, what’s changed in the Academic Foundation concepts?

One new standard was added under the Human Anatomy and Physiology section:

  • 1.1.b -- Demonstrate anatomical position

One standard was removed from the Diseases and Disorders section:

  • 1.22 -- Discuss research related to emerging diseases and disorders (such as: autism, VRSA, PTSD, Listeria, seasonal flu)

In addition to these clean-cut changes, some portions of the Academic Foundation standards were restructured or reworded for better clarity. These include:

  • Standards related to basic structures and functions of human body systems
  • Standards under the Diseases and Disorders section

Overall, these changes will ensure your students learn the most relevant introductory information to successfully learn the rest of the standards!

2. Communications


The Communications standards require students to demonstrate effective communication while delivering and obtaining information.

Two new standards were added to the Communications foundation:

  • 2.1.6 -- Describe appropriate interactions with patients throughout various stages of psychosocial development
  • 2.3.3 -- Demonstrate appropriate use of digital communication in a work environment, such as email, text, and social media

One standard was removed from the Concepts of Effective Communication section:

  • 2.15 -- Practice speaking and active listening skills

In addition, a few details were removed from the Medical Terminology section, such as references to common medical abbreviations and the Joint Commission official “Do Not Use List.”

NCHSE also removed the mention of creative writing from the Written Communication Skills section.

Overall, these changes to the Communications standards better align with the ways healthcare professionals communicate with patients and colleagues on a day to day basis.

3. Systems


The Systems foundation standards require students to understand how different healthcare systems impact quality of care.

Three standards were added to the Healthcare Delivery Systems section:

  • 3.1.1.b -- Specialty medical and dental practices
  • 3.1.4.a -- The history and role of health insurance and employer/employee benefits
  • 3.1.4.b -- Fundamental terms related to health insurance

Nothing was removed from the Systems foundation standards, but a number of the details were reworded and restructured for better clarity and understanding.

The new additions to these standards now include healthcare delivery systems and concepts that didn’t exist when the 2015 standards were written.

That means you’ll cover more relevant information in this portion of your course!

4. Employability Skills


The Employability Skills foundation standards encourage students to develop and apply non-technical skills.

Though no big items were added to or removed from the Employability Skills foundation standards, there were a few detailed changes.

You’ll see the majority of these changes in the Employability Skills subsection 4.2.1.

Five skills were added to the list of employability skills for healthcare:

  • Communication skills
  • Organization
  • Problem solving
  • Time management
  • Work ethic

In addition, four skills were removed from the list:

  • Correct grammar
  • Loyalty
  • Professional characteristics
  • Prompt and prepared

By adjusting the skills listed, you’ll be sure to focus on the most critical soft skills your students will need when they enter the workforce.

5. Legal Responsibilities


The Legal Responsibilities foundation standard requires students to understand the legal responsibilities, limitations, and implications on healthcare workers.

Unlike the first four foundation standards, the only difference you’ll see in this section is the new structure.

Nothing was added, removed, or changed in this section.

6. Ethics


The Ethics foundation standard involves all aspects of cultural, social, and ethnic differences healthcare workers may encounter in their daily work.

Like the previous foundation standard, the only changes to these standards are how the information is structured.

No information was added, removed, or changed.

7. Safety Practices


The Safety Practices foundation standard is one of the most detailed parts of the NHSS.

Students will need to identify potential hazards in the healthcare setting and follow the policies and procedures to prevent injury or illness.

Even though this is one of the most in-depth standards, the changes were minimal.

One standard was added to Safety Practices:

  • 7.2.3 -- Demonstrate and apply the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

Other than that, the only other change you’ll see is the structure of the information listed.

8. Teamwork


The Teamwork foundation standard requires students to understand the responsibilities of healthcare workers as part of an overall team.

One standard was added to Teamwork:

  • 8.2.4 -- Evaluate why teamwork is an important part of healthcare and how it improves patient care

In addition, the details under Healthcare Team (8.1) were restructured and updated to better align with the overarching standard of teamwork.

Overall, these adjustments to the Teamwork standards will help you better convey the importance of teamwork for any healthcare worker, no matter which career path they choose!

9. Health Maintenance Practices


The Health Maintenance Practices foundation standard helps students understand the differences between wellness and disease.

Three new standards were added to Health Maintenance Practices:

  • 9.1.2 -- Examine various aspects of behavioral health
  • 9.2 -- Healthcare Across the Lifespan
  • 9.2.1 -- Discuss physical, mental, social, and behavioral development and its impact on healthcare

In addition, more details were added to standard 9.1.1 (Promote behaviors of health and wellness) to further expand on various aspects of healthy behavior.

Overall, these new standards related to behavioral health brings the full scope of what healthcare workers may encounter when working with patients to light.

10. Technical Skills


The Technical Skills foundation standard requires students to demonstrate skills and knowledge required in any healthcare career.

The standards had a few minor changes to include more details related to vital signs, such as:

  • Blood pressure
  • Temperature
  • Oxygen saturation (added)
  • Pain
  • Pulse
  • Respirations

Overall, this foundation didn’t change much because the career-specific technical skills students need aren’t included in the national standards.

11. Information Technology in Healthcare


The Information Technology in Healthcare foundation standard requires students to understand information technology practices in the healthcare industry.

This foundation standard has the most changes of any other standard.

In total, 12 standards were removed from Information Technology in Healthcare:

  • 11.13 -- Identify the types and content of an EHR/EMR
  • 11.21 -- Apply fundamentals of privacy and confidentiality policies and procedures (HIPAA)
  • 11.22 -- Identify legal and regulatory requirements related to the use of personal health information
  • 11.23 -- Identify common policies and procedures for proper access, disclosure and protection of personal health information
  • 11.24 -- Describe consequences of inappropriate use of health data in terms of disciplinary action
  • 11.25 - Understand the principle to correct inaccurate information/errors entered into an EHR/EMR
  • 11.31 -- Apply basic computer concepts and terminology necessary to use computers and other mobile devices
  • 11.32 -- Demonstrate basic computer troubleshooting procedures
  • 11.33 -- Demonstrate use of file organization and information storage
  • 11.34 -- Identify uses of basic word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications
  • 11.35 -- Evaluate validity of web-based resources
  • 11.36 -- Demonstrate appropriate usage of email and social media in a work environment

These standards were removed to better focus on technology in relation to healthcare, rather than general information technology concepts.

How Can You Meet the New National Health Science Standards?

Now that you know everything that’s changed on the National Health Science Standards, you’ll need to update your curriculum!

To do this, you could spend your summer combing over every detail, changing your lessons, adding different activities, and mapping your curriculum.

Or you could take advantage of a digital curriculum system that will do all of the hard work for you.

Either way, you need to know every bit of detail about the new National Health Science Standards!

Click below to see the May 2019 version of NCHSE’s National Health Science Standards:

Read the New National Health Science Standards