Becoming certified as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist – a chance to learn, grow, and support the field

Amanda L. Holm, MPH, of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, recently participated in the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Education Program’s Tobacco Treatment Specialist Certification, January 30 through February 3, 2017, in Jacksonville, Florida. Amanda is the Project Manager for Henry Ford’s Tobacco Treatment Services and a content expert supporting a project funded by a grant from Pfizer IGLC/Global Bridges to develop an adapted CTTS training for healthcare providers in Macedonia.

I’ve been practicing in the field of tobacco use prevention and cessation for close to 20 years now, but had never previously served as a counselor or been certified as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist.  In 2016, a grant from Pfizer IGLC in partnership with Global Bridges through Henry Ford Health System’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) provided the impetus to change that.  Our project represents a collaboration between GHI and Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia, with a goal of training healthcare providers to counsel their patients to quit tobacco.  So, in attending the training, I hoped to adapt it in into a curriculum that will support physicians in Macedonia becoming champions for cessation.

I very much appreciated the comprehensive picture that CTTS training provided of tobacco use as an addiction and the components of effective treatment.  Though I had encountered much of the training’s content over the course of my career, going through the certification really tied it all together in a way that will help me convey both the “big picture” and the key elements of tobacco treatment to the providers we will work with.

In addition, the instructors at the training were highly engaging, and helpful in answering my questions about modifying the principles of tobacco treatment to be culturally acceptable and feasible.  I have reached out to them since the training to ask additional questions and I know their feedback will be highly useful as we proceed with our project.

Beyond that, the training has also given me a number of tips and strategies that apply to my primary role as a Project Manager for Henry Ford’s Tobacco Treatment Services program.  I will have the opportunity to counsel some patients over the course of the next two years as a quality-improvement strategy, which will also allow me to obtain my recertification and continue to develop as a tobacco control professional.  I very much enjoyed the opportunity to explore this side of my field in depth, and I will probably continue to discover ways in which CTTS training will enrich my work inthe future.