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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.

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.

  • Virtual/In-Class: CSS offers an online virtual and in-class instruction with a qualified instructor that is designed to help prepare Central Service professionals for the CHL exam.
  • Online Course: CSS offers an online course that is designed to help prepare Central Service professionals for the CHL exam. IAHCSMM’s CS Leadership Manual was used as a reference in creating the CHL exam, along with IAHCSMM’s CS Technical Manual (8th edition) and ANSI/AAMI’s ST79 (2010 edition), all available through the IAHCSMM Online Store. An additional resource, AORN’s Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices (2017 edition), can be purchased through the AORN website.  In addition, students will have access to the online training videos.
  • 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.


The CHL exam will test your proficiency in these areas:

  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

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.