December 1, 2020 / Alla Orlova

AIHA University's Year in Review

2020 brought us all closer together—AIHA members, staff, and our allied partners. It helped reinforce that IH/OEHS professionals play a crucial role in the daily operations of communities and businesses. With physical separation during the pandemic, virtual collaboration enabled a quicker information exchange and enhanced AIHA ties across the country and the globe. The pandemic also reinforced the important role of virtual education to help busy IH/OEHS professionals learn new skills.

In this last AIHA University blog of the year, I’d like to celebrate the many accomplishments of the Education and Technical Initiatives (ETI) department, which I am privileged to lead, and share some highlights.

The ETI department's mission is to provide a full complement of IH/OEHS educational resources, empowering those who apply scientific knowledge to protect all workers from occupational hazards.


AIHA conducted a needs assessment and gap analysis on the priority skills for the IH/OEHS profession to help AIHA determine where to focus future educational offerings. To accomplish this, we have:

  • reviewed materials (for example, core competencies, frameworks, content strategy research) to draft a preliminary list of skills related to each topic
  • administered a survey to 6,834 members asking them to share their feedback on the importance of each of the skills and where they observed gaps in proficiency for each (we received 1,279 responses for a 19 percent response rate)

Following analysis of the findings, we conducted a gap analysis comparing our publications and e-learning to priority skills and secondary topics. This led to the development of a roadmap of educational offerings AIHA should consider making available to members over time using a phased approach.


We’ve recently written about our new Fall AIHA University eLearning offerings and the transformation of AIHce EXP to a virtual event, so I won’t go into too much detail here.

In 2021, we will continue developing education as identified in the roadmap while making virtual delivery our main delivery method outside of conferences.

Looking ahead, some of the programs identified for the future include offerings on Big Data and communicating IH/OEHS concepts, a small virtual conference related to health risk analysis and hazard communications, education related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and an occupational exposure assessment certificate program.


Two publications were recently added to the AIHA University eLibrary subscription, which offers unlimited online access to 50 of our best-sellers via six-month or annual subscriptions:

  • Guidelines for the Selection and Use of Environmental Surface Disinfectants in Healthcare, 2nd edition
  • AIHA Laboratory Quality Assurance Manual, 6th edition


Frameworks, previously known as bodies of knowledge, identify the knowledge and skills a competent person should possess and demonstrate in a specific topic or specialty. Frameworks often suggest future educational offerings.

For example, the recently released technical framework on the use of DRIs will update the existing certificate program on direct-reading instruments. The recently completed Legionella framework would guide the update of The Recognition, Evaluation, and Control of Legionella in Building Water Systems guideline and related education.

Also, a Big Data framework for each knowledge level—IH Technician, Advanced IH, and IH Data Expert—is nearing completion. We now have a list of domains, major tasks, and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform competently at each knowledge level.

Digital Strategy

To maximize learner engagement and enable innovation, we have sought a new learning management system (LMS) to support all online education as part of a digital transformation. This new learning platform is crucial to the success of the type of learning we want to offer and the way AIHA engages with members.

The new LMS will be launched in 2021 and will enable easier access to the breadth of online courses on laptops, desktop computers, and mobile devices. It will also allow for increased interactivity and engagement.

Overall, attendees gave positive feedback on our educational offerings this year, including the education sessions and professional development courses offered at AIHce EXP, stand-alone virtual conferences, webinars, first-ever virtual five-day Fundamentals of IH course, and asynchronous courses. We also received some good insights for future e-learning offerings. We are ending 2020 strong and looking forward to a successful 2021.

Wishing everyone Happy Holidays and a healthy and safe new year!

Alla Orlova

Alla Orlova is AIHA’s managing director of Education and Technical Initiatives.


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