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NCHSE Curriculum Enhancements: An Honest Review for Health Science Teachers

October 20th, 2021 | 9 min. read

Mike Cescon

Mike Cescon

With past experience in teaching, a couple of degrees in writing, and an upbringing immersed in medical jargon, Mike is positioned well to hear out the most common questions teachers ask about the iCEV curriculum. His goal is to write content that quickly and effectively answers these questions so you can back to what matters - teaching your students.

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With the wealth of educational material available online, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when looking for resources to teach your health science class. Which resources align with your teaching style? Which will help your health science class meet its objectives? Which will be the most engaging for your students to follow? 

And really what all of this boils down to - what resources are right for you? 

As a health science curriculum developer, thousands of teachers like you approach AES with questions like these every year. One of the resources they often ask about is the NCHSE Curriculum Enhancements. The NCHSE Standards are considered a national baseline for health science education, but how do these Enhancements factor in? Are they a valuable resource for you?

In this article, we’ll give an honest review of the NCHSE Curriculum Enhancements so you can determine if they’ll be a good fit for your class. In the process, we’ll answer questions like:

  1. What Are the NCHSE Enhancements?
  2. What Topics Do the NCHSE Enhancements Cover?
  3. What Are the Benefits of the NCHSE Enhancements?
  4. What Are Some Drawbacks of the NCHSE Enhancements?
  5. Are the NCHSE Enhancements Right for You?

By the end of the article, you’ll have a greater understanding of the NCHSE Enhancements and will know whether they’re the right resource for you.

1. What Are the NCHSE Enhancements?

The National Consortium for Health Science Education (NCHSE) is an organization of professional healthcare workers, educators, resource providers, and others dedicated to improving the quality of health science education throughout the country. 

nchse-navigation-guide-1NCHSE’s Health Science Curriculum Enhancements are a supplemental classroom resource that educators can draw upon to reinforce their health science class curriculum. They include hundreds of materials - some designed by teachers and others drawn from various resource providers.

These materials include:

  • Lesson outlines
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Classroom activities
  • Digital assessments
  • Current event articles
  • Writing prompts for students
  • Augmented reality learning resources
  • And more

Though the Enhancements have historically been only printable and physical, with the release of version 6.0, the Enhancements have been made digital, and teachers can download and use the material directly. 

Looking to find out more about NCHSE and the benefits of joining? Read our article: What is the National Consortium for Health Science Education (NCHSE)?

2. What Health Science Topics Do the NCHSE Enhancements Cover? 

Before we go into what topics the NCHSE Enhancements cover, you should know more about NCHSE’s National Health Science Standards. 

The National Health Science Standards are foundational concepts that NCHSE believes anyone seeking to enter a healthcare profession should be educated in. NCHSE created these Standards to ensure that every healthcare worker in the country understands this solid baseline of core topics, so that they might be more successful in their fields. 

This is important because the NCHSE Enhancements cover all of the same topics that the NCHSE Standards cover. In fact, the Enhancements were specifically designed to help health science instructors teach each of the Standards in their classroom.

NCHSE-health-science-curriculum-enhancements-topicsWith that in mind, both the NCHSE Enhancements and Standards cover the same following topics essential to healthcare education:

  1. Academic Foundations
  2. Communications
  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

Thousands of teachers and classrooms throughout the country use these topics as a guiding structure for their health science courses, and the Enhancements are a perfect resource for helping them teach these concepts to students. 

The Standards are also the foundation for the National Health Science Assessment--an exam recognized across the country as an excellent gauge for a student’s understanding of health science concepts and skills. By passing the Assessment, students demonstrate their grasp on foundational health science and their readiness to join a more specialized program in the field. 

Want more information about the National Health Science Standards and how they’re used? Check out our article: What Are the National Health Science Standards?

3. What Are the Benefits of the NCHSE Enhancements?


There are many benefits to using the NCHSE Enhancements as a resource for your health science curriculum. Depending on the kind of class you teach and what material you need, the Enhancements might be exactly what you’re looking for. 

They Have a Cohesive, Comprehensive Structure

The NCHSE Enhancements work well as a detailed guide on what and how to teach your health science class. 

The Enhancements are based on the NCHSE Standards, after all, which are recognized throughout the country as a strong set of concepts that most healthcare professionals should know. 

This strong foundation allows the Enhancements to serve as a cohesive structure teachers can adhere to, with solid starting points, ideas for various activities and projects, and enough supplemental material to cover much of what you need to teach an introductory course. 

If you are a new or inexperienced teacher searching for a lifeline, the structured approach of the NCHSE Enhancements will make them a valuable resource to have. 

They Help Teachers Effectively Integrate Technology

For many instructors, effective teaching means hitting the right balance between pedagogy, content, and technology so that their kids learn and retain more information. Though teachers often do just fine with pedagogy and content, when it comes to properly using technology to teach students, many feel they are falling behind. 

The NCHSE Enhancements, however, allow teachers to bring a technological aspect to the classroom that helps them strike a better balance. 

After all, the Enhancements primarily exist in digital format, containing files like PowerPoints, activities, videos, and projects. What’s more, they also come with lists of online resources teachers can use to further incorporate technology in the classroom, like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). 

If you’re a teacher looking to use more technology in the classroom, the NCHSE Enhancements would be a good fit. 

They Provide Flexibility for Teachers

It’s no surprise that modern classrooms are composed of all kinds of different learners, and many of them won’t learn in the same ways, or at the same pace. 

Some students you teach might be ESL or ESOL, and will need to translate course material to be successful. Other students might have learning disorders, and may have to think longer on your lessons to understand them completely. 

The NCHSE Enhancements, however, provide a level of flexibility that allows teachers to use them to differentiate their instruction and engage with these diverse learners

Much of the material available within the Enhancements--from PowerPoints to activity worksheets--can be adapted to fit in several different nooks and crannies in your classroom. You can edit some lessons to make more sense to your students with learning disorders, or hand off documents to your ESL students so that they can run them through translation software. 

If you teach diverse learners and need a flexible resource that can be adapted to fit their needs, then the NCHSE Enhancements will likely work well for you. 

4. What Are Some Drawbacks of the NCHSE Enhancements?


Though the NCHSE Enhancements are a valuable resource that many health science teachers take advantage of every day in the classroom, there are inevitably some drawbacks, limitations, and bad fits for whom the Enhancements might not be the best choice.

Their Material Is Supplemental, Not Core

One important limitation teachers might miss is that the NCHSE Enhancements are not supposed to be used as a core curriculum for your health science course. 

Instead, they’re meant to supplement--“enhance”--your existing curriculum. 

In other words, the Enhancements aren’t designed to be the only resource you use to teach your class. If you try to use them that way, you might end up disappointed. Instead, you should use the Enhancements to reinforce and expand upon other material you already have. 

If you’re looking for a comprehensive core curriculum that will meet all of your classroom needs, the NCHSE Enhancements probably aren’t the resource you’re looking for, as they don’t work as well when used entirely by themselves.

Learning to Navigate Them Takes Time

Though the NCHSE Enhancements have an extensive collection of material that teachers can draw from, for some this is a drawback, as it can make the Enhancements challenging to navigate. 

There’s a lot of content in the Enhancements, and finding the best activities and presentations for you and your classroom will take some time and patience. You’ll need to sit with them and find your bearings before you can effectively use them in your class. 

This is especially the case for teachers who aren’t tech-savvy, as the Enhancements come in ZIP files that teachers often have trouble opening and using. 

If you aren’t a tech-savvy teacher or don’t have the time to spend gaining your bearings with the Enhancements, then more accessible resources might be better for your class. 

It’s also important to note, however, that NCHSE does provide step-by-step navigation tools within the Enhancements as well as instructional videos on their website to guide new teachers through the Enhancements. So long as you use these tools, navigation shouldn’t be a problem for most teachers. 

They Aren’t Free

The NCHSE Enhancements cost $350 for teachers from NCHSE member states and $500 for teachers from non-member states. 

Though not the most expensive digital resource available, the Enhancements might still be too pricey for some teachers or schools to consider. Many would prefer to seek out free online resources instead. 

Another factor in this is that if you want to avoid paying for the Enhancements out of pocket, you’ll likely have to convince your administration of the necessity of buying them. This may be too troublesome for some teachers. 

If you’re looking for a free supplemental resource--or one you don’t have to spend much money on--then the NCHSE Enhancements probably won’t be the best choice for you.

Are the NCHSE Enhancements Right for You?


Well, that depends on what you’re looking for in a classroom resource. 

Overall, the NCHSE Enhancements are a great supplemental resource if you’re teaching foundational health science classes. 

They have a solid structure that will help guide newer teachers, a level of flexibility that makes them adaptable to many kinds of learners, and they bring a technological aspect to the classroom that many teachers look for. 

However, a few drawbacks or limitations may indicate the Enhancements aren’t right for you. 

True to their name, the Enhancements are not meant to serve as a core curriculum, but to “enhance” an existing course and make it more effective and engaging. Just as well, there is enough material in the Enhancements that they are often tricky to navigate, and for some, the cost to purchase the Enhancements may be prohibitive. 

These limitations will be negligible for most teachers, but they’re important to keep in mind if you want to ensure you’re choosing the right health science resource. 

If you think the NCHSE Enhancements are right for you, you can purchase them here on NCHSE’s website.

On the other hand, if you’re unsure about the NCHSE Enhancements, or just want to be aware of all your options, then check out our article on which health science resource is right for teaching your foundational class. This is an excellent place to begin if you’re new to teaching and aren’t sure where to start when choosing classroom resources.  Discover Your Health Science Curriculum Solution >