Roytburd makes top score on health education exam

January 08, 2009

Katya Roytburd

Katya Roytburd

Katya Roytburd, MPH, has received the highest score in the nation on this fall’s administration of the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. Roytburd, project manager of a colorectal cancer screening study at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, received her master’s degree from the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education in August 2007. 

The exam, administered twice yearly by The National Commission on Health Education Credentialing Inc., is a voluntary professional certification program that establishes a national standard for individual health education practitioners. The “CHES” designation attests to the individual’s knowledge and skills and assists employers in identifying qualified health education practitioners. 

Roytburd scored 142 of a possible 150 points, the highest of the 523 test-takers. In 2007, the average score was 106, with about a 75% pass rate for the nearly 1,500 applicants.

 “I was inspired to pursue the CHES certification during my first semester in HBHE [the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education] by Dr. Laura Linnan, who is now head of the HBHE master’s program,” Roytburd says. “I really respected her and her background in workplace wellness, and I thought if CHES was something she valued, then it would be good for me to pursue as well.” 

Roytburd believes that the health behavior and health education curriculum at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health prepared her well for the exam.

 “I think that all HBHE graduates should consider pursuing the CHES,” she says, “because it provides a uniform standard for all health educators, and it requires us to do continuing education in order to maintain the certification. I love to learn and would take additional classes and attend conferences anyway, but it’s really great to get credit for those activities.”

 UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or