Individuals who have a an altruistic desire to serve their communities are great candidates for careers in the field of health promotion and education. With the cost of health care expected to increase dramatically over the next ten years, many patients are learning the role of a healthy and balanced lifestyle in preventing long-term illnesses.
Health promotion and education professionals work in several capacities educating the public about health risks and encouraging healthy habits that will prevent against various afflictions. Skilled health educators can find employment in government, private schools, and large corporations, educating groups about the risks of lifestyle associated with any particular community. The flexibility and career mobility associated with the field of health promotion make it an appealing career for individuals with a personal interest in fitness and social activism.
The overarching goal of a health promotion and education professional is to nurture awareness of physical health and nutrition in a public or private community. Many health educators, however, specialize in educating certain populations about the health risks endemic to their particular community. This includes such varying tasks as the elderly about the importance of maintaining fitness in later life, working with low-income communities to raise awareness of STD transmission and immunization, or young women for whom unplanned pregnancy is factor. In general, however, a health promotion and education professional will assess problems, coordinate and implement counter-tactics, and lead classes in a mulch-faceted effort to increase life expectancy and lower health risks.
Appropriate approaches to health promotion should and do differ based on the community, therefore a skilled health educator will be familiar with a large range of scholastic techniques and methods. At their most basic, health educators are a combination of activist and organizer, using modern technology and public policy to implement health-driven programs in a number of different communities. Data collected from research done by health educators is often used to influence the nature and focus of government health programs, making the job a health educator both socially and personally important.
Background and Education
Just as the tasks of a health promotion and education specialist will differ based on the population they are working with, the educational background of such specialists vary widely. It is possible to enter the health promotions field with a combination of work experience and academic achievement in different fields such as communication and psychology, however many schools and universities now offer degree programs in health education.
The most common degree earned by health professionals is a 2-year Associate’s degree in health education. Such programs will educate students in the basic aspects of health and fitness, as well as general administration and planning techniques. Credits earned through an Associate’s degree program are usually transferable towards a 4-year Bachelor’s degree, the credential required for educators who want to move up into management or positions of greater authority.