A health educator has a broad role that may lead them into working in one of a number of settings, helping to educate the public about health issues.
The issues health educators confront are also wide-ranging: substance abuse, assessing the health issues of a community, addressing sexually transmitted diseases in students, meeting with community leaders about suicide prevention, and helping to develop programs to address all of these issues.
Students interested in a career as a health educator may begin as education majors, earning a second degree in a health-related area will help to equip them with the knowledge and experience they need to begin working for a school district, state, or county.
Working in the health education field can be an all-encompassing career that asks much of the person who chooses this field. Working in this profession also means that they could connect with people who may be feeling suicidal or who are addicted to a substance and help them to feel hope.
Resources for Before and After College
Top Resources for Health Education Students
Accreditation is vital to obtaining a well-respected degree that results in being hired by an employer you actually want to work for. If you don’t take the time to look for a university’s accreditation status (or lack thereof), you may not be able to transfer your credits or even apply for federal financial aid; federal laws prevent students at unaccredited schools from receiving this assistance.
What is accreditation? Consider it a stamp of approval or an endorsement given by agencies that evaluate individual universities, colleges, community colleges, and even specific programs for the quality of their educational programs, courses, and faculty.
To be accredited, an individual university or degree program, such as a health education degree program, voluntarily requests an accreditation evaluation. Degree programs and universities, community colleges and colleges submit their programs for evaluation if they feel they will qualify and it’s in their best interest.
These agencies have created the standards by which they evaluate schools or programs with the support of professionals or even the federal government in the case of regional accrediting agencies. If the school or program is found to meet the standards of the accreditation agency, it will be given an accreditation status.
For regional accreditation, you should keep your eyes open for these agencies:
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
For Health Education, you should keep your eyes open for these accrediting agencies.
- The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC)
Questions About Financial Aid
Going to college isn’t a cheap endeavor. You and your parents are likely to put many thousands of dollars into your degree. Ask about each school’s total price. This is the cost of tuition, fees, books, supplies, room/board, and other expenses that the school charges all students.
If you apply and are approved for financial aid, your award package could pay for a substantial portion of that, but it’s unlikely to cover all of it. Universities and financial aid programs work together to create a financial aid plan that applies payments directly to a student’s school bill. These financial aid packages can contain grants, scholarships, work-study, or federal or private student loans.
What is left after financial aid is known as the average net price. This is often affected by you or your parents’ annual income. If, for instance, your parents earn up to $75,000, they (and you) would owe more than a family that earns less than $48,000.
To get access to financial aid, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once you are approved, you’ll be able to apply for grants, work-study, scholarships, or student loans (federal or private). Not all scholarships or grants require this, but many do. In this application, you answer questions that help the Department of Education understand the level of your need for assistance.
You don’t have to limit yourself to federal financial aid; you can apply for state aid as well. You also may be able to apply directly to your university for institutional grants or scholarships. And there are thousands of scholarships available through private organizations or corporations that are involved in the degree program you’re pursuing. If you are applying for several forms of aid, you may not get the maximum amount for grants, scholarships, or work-study.
Health Education Associations for Students
Health education students can obtain numerous benefits when they join health education associations. This is because they will gain access to materials other students can’t use for their papers. They may also gain access to learning opportunities that they would not otherwise have and networking with professionals who are already working I the field.
- Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)
This is a professional association of health educators and students in the US and 25 countries. Members work in healthcare settings, universities, schools, federal, state, and local government agencies, worksites, and voluntary organizations.
- ETA Sigma Gamma (ETA)
ETA’s mission is to promote public health discipline and elevate the standards, competence, ideals, and the ethics of professionally prepared health educators.
- Health Care Education Association (HCEA)
HCEA involves several health educator disciplines and commits to improving healthcare outcomes by using evidence-based education.
Student or Open Access Journals
Student or open access journals can be challenging to read, even if you are relatively advanced in your classes. Combined with how much your professors may assign for you to read, each article can take a significant amount of time to get through. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
If you are going to get accustomed to reading and understanding articles at this level, it’s best to begin now. You’re going to be reading actively rather than passively; using your mind to figure out new words and their meanings, along with what the text is communicating, and hearing about concepts that may not even have come up in class. This will put you ahead of the curve as you continue through college and put you in a good position to succeed.
Health Education Study Resources
Even if you are attending in-person classes to earn your health education degree, you can still benefit from online resources. You may even want to take a few refresher courses later in your education, take a class over the summer to avoid summer brain drain, or take a class that isn’t offered by your school.
Online classes are convenient; you usually don’t need to log on at 9:15 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday; you can log on as early or as late in the day as you find necessary to add to your learning. While this may be a new mode of learning for you, it may be more interesting for you simply because it is different.
If you’re worried about the cost, look for free online resources, such as Coursera. This website has thousands of courses available, some of which may be in health education or other courses you’re interested in.
- Health Education and Promotion Program Directory
This site provides information you may need as you look for resources for learning.
- Saylor Foundation
The Saylor Foundation’s goal is to provide education that is free for everyone. This link compiles everything you may be interested in.
- National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCEC)
You’ll find a wide range of resources here—purchasing study materials is optional, not mandatory.
- Praxis Study Companion (Health Education)
This resource allows you to figure out how much you already know. As you get closer to graduation and consider taking certification courses and exams, this will offer what you need.
- Study Guide Zone
This study guide offers several test prep opportunities, including nutrition, fitness, and teaching. If you plan on counseling clients, you’ll also find something for that.
- Getting Smart
This eLearning source pulls together 50 of the top eLearning courses, all for your ease of study. Sources such as MIT, Utah State, Stanford University, and others offer thousands of courses.
Smartphone apps aren’t just for social media or playing game. Students of all ages, including college, are very comfortable with their devices, having made them work with their lifestyles for years.
Students store upcoming homework assignments, exam dates, and study dates with them as well. They sometimes use their camera capability to take images of the pages they are studying so they can refer to them without having to open their textbooks.
Both Apple and Android have apps available for their customers to download or buy. So, why shouldn’t you download helpful apps that will help you track time, stay on-task, study, and keep organized?
Scribd is literally the biggest online library. Students are able to find documents or even books they need for their studies.
This app is an RSS aggregator. Students can customize feed.ly to give them notifications whenever something they need comes up.
This app allows students to upload class documents onto the cloud so they can access them at any time they need from the internet.
- iTunes U
Students who want to take an additional course can find and access a course through iTunes U. These courses are created and taught by faculty from leading universities, such as Harvard, Stanford, or MIT.
This app allows students to organize current and upcoming tasks and class obligations. It works as a to-do list, and goes farther by synchronizing every task with the student’s other devices.
A health educator internship is one of the most valuable things you can do for your new career and profession. Whether you work for a county health department, a school, or another government agency, you’ll gain valuable insight that supports what you have been learning inside the classroom.
You already know what the overall mission of health education is. It allows you, as an educator, to promote good health and help people prevent avoidable disease.
You may even be able to expand the settings in which you complete your internship. These can already include clinical labs and policy, where you’ll be a part of creating new policies that allow your agency to create effective changes. As your degree program suggests, you’ll also be able to educate others in a variety of settings. If you’re interested in working for a non-profit, an internship experience in a non-profit healthcare organization will expose you to many of the operations and roles available to you.
Resources for Students and Professionals
Health Educator Certification Options
As a future health education specialist, you’ll develop in-depth knowledge of the health issues that are affecting populations as a whole and, more specifically, in the community where you live or attend school.
This knowledge comes though analyzing data from community members. Once you have this information, you’re able to create effective programs, meet with vulnerable community members, and encourage everyone to develop healthy lifestyles. You’ll also be active in creating new policies that support healthy living and make a healthier environment possible.
You may work in a government agency, hospital or clinic, a community organization, school or university, insurance company, or in a non-profit.
Once you have earned a bachelor’s degree, at minimum, and participated in an internship, you can then turn your attention toward certification. Once you have passed the most common certification exam for health educators, you’ll have the designation CHES after your name—this stands for Certified Health Education Specialist.
This certification is an indicator to others that your knowledge and practices comply with a national standard of practice. If you plan to work in a school district as a health teacher, you’ll be required to hold a certification in order to work.
Certification Study Resources
The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) has created and administers the CHES exam throughout the US. The study guide and exam both focus on current, validated competencies and sub-competencies at both the basic and advanced levels. These are the CHES and MCHES study guides and exams for both new and experienced health educators. Organizations also use the study publication to assess the depth of health education knowledge among its staff.
The study guide acts as a helpful supplement to texts and class lectures that health educators may have already completed. NCHEC advises that health educators should study multiple sources before taking the exam.
- Test Prep Review (TPR)
This exam is suitable for new health educators beginning their careers.
- National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC)
This exam is designed for the experienced health educator, assessing the depth of their knowledge.
Temp (temporary) agencies hire people for specific career niches, such as health educator. Once someone is hired, they are the temp worker’s employer. When a request for a health educator comes in, the temp agency determines the exact job needs so it can match the correct worker to the requesting company.
Once a health educator accepts the assignment, they go to the client organization to introduce themselves and find out just what their expected role and duties will be while they are working on that assignment. Other terms for temp agencies are staffing agencies or temp services.
Resources for Health Education Professionals
Professional Health Education Associations
Once a graduate of a health education degree program begins to look for employment, they should also look for professional health education associations they wish to join. Even at the beginning of their careers, this will help to benefit their careers and their level of health education knowledge.
A health education association is full of fellow health educators; they may work for the government, for a non-profit, or in a school district. The biggest commonalities are in their career goals. They will be able to network with other professionals and find the job opportunities they want. Professional health educator associations schedule meet-and-mingle events, where newer educators can meet with more-experienced educators.
Popular Health Education Journals
Continuing to read professional health education journals will allow you to stay up to date throughout your career. Doing so means you and your fellow health educators are able to contribute to the good reputation of your employer, be it a government agency, non-profit organization, or school district.
If you have plans to return to school and earn your master’s or doctorate, you are also laying the foundation for becoming a full professor who may be about to gain tenure. Depending on your specialization, you may also accumulate enough knowledge and experience so that you eventually become a leader in the health education field.
- Academic Medicine
Offered by Stanford University
- Advances in Health Sciences Education Theory and Practice
Offered by Springer Journals
- Health Education Journal
Offered by Sage Journals
- Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine
Offered by Sage Journals
Industry Conferences for Health Educators
It’s vital for you, as a health educator, to attend industry conferences. You get the chance to meet with hundreds of health education professionals and learn about new developments in health education. You’ll also learn about the best practices in this field, allowing you to make changes in how you do your work.
Attending conferences allows you to get to know other health educator professionals and gain support as you further your learning and goals. At conferences, you’ll have the chance take part in educational sessions and listen to noted speakers who introduce new developments and ways of thinking in this field.
- Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)
Both students and health education professionals attend these conferences, where they have the chance to mingle together. You’ll also take part in roundtable discussions and skill-building workshops.
- Learn Serve Lead: The AAMC Annual Meeting
At this event, you’ll be attending sessions with professionals from communities from wealthy areas, poverty-stricken areas, cities with a diverse ethnic population, and populations struggling with health issues.
- International Association of Medical Science Educators Annual Meeting
This conference allows health educators to expand their learning, advancement, and professional development in their field.
- AAMC Councils Co-located Spring Meeting
The Council of Deans, Council of Teaching Hospitals, and Council of Faculty and Academic Societies all come together at this conference to discuss new ways of using effective leadership in health education or academic medicine.