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    As the health care industry continues to advance in terms of research, treatment options, medication, and diagnostic capabilities, the health challenges of our nation continue to evolve. For instance, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, the leading causes of death today are far different than they were in 1950 or 1920. Industrialized nations have minimized the outcomes for infectious illnesses, leaving chronic disease as our number one killer. “By helping us address preventable diseases in a variety of ways, health educators are today’s advocates for healthier individuals, families, and communities,” said Matthew Caines, DHEd, MPH, CHES, Kaplan University’s department chair for public health, health education, health informatics, and health information management. 

    Are Health Education Careers a Good Choice? 

    For those interested in health sciences careers, a degree in health education could provide diverse opportunities.* It is estimated that there are almost 100,000 health educators and community health workers in today’s workforce, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health educators is expected to grow by 21% through 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This predicted growth is due to national efforts to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs by teaching people about healthy habits and behaviors and how to utilize available health care services. 

    In general, health educator positions can be found in businesses, industries, hospitals, health care organizations, nonprofits, public health departments, schools, and universities. “One illustration of the growing prevalence of health education in our country is the increase in worksite wellness programs available to employees in companies and business that are not within the health industry,” said Dr. Caines. Dr. Caines pointed out that this development has been impacted by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as health education professionals have been identified as key players in implementing the ACA.

    The Role of the Health Educator 

    Although health educator positions are multifaceted and multidimensional, health educators share commonality in the goals and tactics they use to do their jobs. “In short, a health educator’s goal is to maximize the number of healthy years an individual has and minimize the unhealthy years,” said Dr. Caines. To see if a health educator role might be in your future, Dr. Caines recommends reviewing the following general job objectives of a health educator and asking yourself whether your abilities and interests coincide:

    Objective #1: Improve health of individuals and communities: Are you resourceful and good at planning and implementing programs?

    Objective #2: Focus on prevention and cut costs: Can you see yourself assessing needs, assets and capacities in order to create programs that generate results?

    Objective #3: Offer knowledge to complement others: Would you be interested in being a resource for health education? Are you a good communicator and advocate for others?

    Objective #4: Addressing risks for future: Do you enjoy research and evaluation?

    “Kaplan University focuses on providing a strong education in health management and public health. At the same time, we provide a global, holistic, and comprehensive approach to training,” said Dr. Caines. “To be a successful health educator, graduates need to be familiar with the health industry but also have strong communication skills and a foundational understanding of the business world,” he added.

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