Certified Healthcare Leader (CHL)

A safe, efficient, quality-driven Central Service department cannot be maintained without a skilled and knowledgeable leader at the helm. Those in CS/SP leadership positions have the power – and the responsibility – to ensure that their department is poised to tackle that critical goal effectively, consistently, and responsibly.

The Certified Healthcare Leader (CHL) certification program is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated the management and supervisory skills necessary to provide effective leadership in the Central Service department. CHL’s are indispensable members of the healthcare team who are responsible for managing the daily operations of the CS/SP department including standards and regulation compliance, finance, reporting, staffing, human resource management and inter- and intra-departmental communications.

To earn CHL certification, candidates are required to demonstrate skills through the successful completion of an examination developed to measure the understanding of general central service, infection prevention and management topics. CHL certificants are required to recertify annually through completion of continuing education requirements.

How to Prepare for the Examination

Those interested in becoming a Certified Healthcare Leader (CHL) can prepare in one of the following ways:

Please Note: Courses are preparation for the exam; passing a course does not equate to being certified. IAHCSMM’s Education Department has developed materials as an optional method to assist individuals in preparing for the CHL exam. Those materials were developed and produced independently of the Certification Council, which does not develop, require, approve, or endorse any specific training materials.

  • Distance Learning Course: Purdue University offers a traditional correspondence course by mail that is designed to help prepare Central Service Supervisors and Managers (already in a leadership position, in training to become a CS leader, or interested in pursuing a leadership role) for the CHL exam. You can find out more about the course by calling 800.830.0269 or by visiting the Purdue website .
  • Self Study: You may purchase reference materials and choose to study on your own to prepare for the CHL exam. IAHCSMM’s CS Leadership Manual (2010 ed.) was used as a reference in creating the CHL exam, along with IAHCSMM’s CS Technical Manual (8th ed.), ANSI/AAMI’s ST79 (2010 ed. reaffirmed in 2014 with Amendments 1-4), and AORN’s Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices (2017 ed.). You can order these publications through the IAHCSMM Online Store and the AORN websitePlease note: As of July 1, 2017, the 7th edition of the Central Service Technical Manual is no longer considered a reference for the CHL exam.
  • Work Experience: You may take the exam based on your personal knowledge from experience in the field; it is not required that you take or pass a preparatory course nor study materials on your own. Applicants can apply directly to take the exam without purchasing study materials or enrolling in a course.
Requirements for the Examination

Full CRCST certification must be obtained prior to taking the CHL exam, and must be kept current to maintain your CHL certification.

The exam is computer based and no writing instruments are needed (a paper and pencil version of the exam is not available.) The test is comprised of 150 multiple choice questions and you will have 3 hours in which to complete the exam. Questions can be marked for review and answered or changed later in the exam.

Content & Composition of the Examination

The CHL exam will test your proficiency in these areas:

Each of these seven knowledge domains is comprised of a series of sub-domains which further detail the type and amount of content covered in each section, as well as its weight on the certification exam. Please click here to see the full CHL Exam Content Outline.

  1. Cleaning, Decontamination, and Disinfection
  2. Preparation and Packaging
  3. Sterilization Process
  4. Patient Care Equipment
  5. Sterile Storage and Inventory Management
  6. Documentation and Record Maintenance
  7. Customer Relations