The Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) of the American Hospital Association (AHA) has partnered with The Ohio State University to create the first academic certificate in health care environmental services within a hospitality management program.

The new program fulfills a long-time request from AHE members and health care professionals at large for AHE to offer a formal educational program that prepares students for a career in health care environmental services. The partnership with the university will benefit both the health care and hospitality fields.

“The collaborative venture with a major university will benefit both health care and hospitality professionals,” says Patti Costello, executive director of AHE, a professional membership group of the American Hospital Association.

“Early participants will gain a competitive edge by choosing highly trained graduates who understand how to ensure health and wellness in both the health care environmental services and hospitality fields,” she says.

The predominantly online educational program is scheduled to launch in the fall of this year. 

In addition to helping The Ohio State University develop the course content, the AHE will facilitate the procurement of ES professionals and members to serve as guest speakers. The university and the AHE also will collaborate on opportunities for internships and “shadow days” in hospitals or other health care settings to allow students to gain hands-on ES experience or see ES professionals at work.  

Plans call for the first course to delve into the business of health care and analysis of its critical areas and challenges relating to the hospitality business. Students also will develop the required critical-thinking skills needed to apply expertise in ES in either a health care or hospitality setting.

In addition, students will be prepared to:

  • Understand and apply the principles of hygiene, sanitation and infection control.
  • Apply staffing principles in environmental services.
  • Identify health care regulations.      
  • Explain the main concepts and standards in health care design, engineering and food service.

The program first will open to undergraduate students either in hospitality or other academic programs with a connection to environmental health and safety and then will expand to include existing health care and hospitality professionals.

Members of both professions support the new program. Longtime AHE member Nazar Masry, vice president, health care and laundry operations, Job Options Inc., sees the program as an advancement for the ES profession. “I finally see us bridging the gap between both industries and it’s a win-win situation, particularly for AHE.”

Sue Bellan, an alumna of hospitality management at The Ohio State University and general manager of Columbus (Ohio) Hospitality Management, supports the program. “As I learned about the new certificate, I thought about the many parallels between a health care environment and a more traditional hotel or restaurant hospitality environment.”