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  • HS - Health Educators

    By Kelly Eichmann, RDN, and Kerrie Berends, PhD  
    School of Health Sciences Faculty

    The vast array of allied health professionals are interconnected by their scope of practice to provide education and care to their patients through prevention or treatment of diseases. Health educators may specialize in personal, community, consumer, environmental, or public health. Whatever the focus, the key is education that centers on health. The scope of practice of general health educators is broad and most professionals end up selecting a specific focus area (Career One Stop).

    Health educators work closely with allied and supportive disciplines which focus on public health and disease prevention. Health education incorporates a myriad of health and science industries such as biology, research, education, health, medicine, and psychology with a focus on disease and illness prevention.   

    Opportunities in Public and Community Health 

    Social sciences is the foundation of a health educator’s background, and many seek a specialized focus in public or community health. Health educators can assist in the planning, implementing, monitoring, organizing, evaluating, and directing of public or community health education programs. Public health educators can work with health care providers to create health education materials, flyers, brochures, and videos.  

    Health educators can also choose to work with individuals, families, and the public on the prevention of disease and the promotion of fitness, exercise, healthy movement, active aging, or individual sport training. Patient/client education could be provided in direct one-on-one education settings or as part of a small or large group. In addition, educators may have the opportunity to teach new and experienced health professionals.

    Health Educators and the Future

    How does the work of a health educator shift the way we think about the future of health? The primary focus of health education is to help improve the level of activity and increase knowledge of health topics to contribute toward the prevention of disease. The United States government recognizes the importance of preventative care and now provides many services free of charge. According to the CDC, “[g]etting recommended prevention services and making healthy lifestyle choices are key steps to good health and well-being.” With the large shift toward prevention, screening, education, and early intervention, health educators can play a large role in the process.

    Education and Training 

    Health educators can receive training by earning a degree in health education, health promotion, or another related wellness degree from a nationally accredited university. In addition, specific certifications and endorsements can be earned through private and state credentialing authorities. Certain states or employers may require additional credentialing or certifications such as the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) (http://www.nchec.org/ches) or completion of a post-graduate degree in health education.

    References 

    Career One Stop. Occupation Profile: Health Educators. Retrieved from http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?nodeid=2&optstatus=000110111&next=occ_rep&jobfam=21&soccode=211091&stfips=&level=&id=1&ES=Y&EST=health+eductor

    CDC Prevention Checklist. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/prevention/

    CHES Overview. National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.nchec.org/ches

    McKay, D. R. (April 8, 2015). Health Educator: Career Information. About Careers. Retrieved from http://careerplanning.about.com/od/exploringoccupations/p/health-educator.htm

     

    Kelly Eichmann, RDN & Kerrie Berends, PhD are faculty members at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not represent the view of Kaplan University. 

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