What is a Health Educator?

A Health Educator...

is professionally prepared and possesses knowledge and skills based upon theories and research to promote health education behavior change in individuals and populations. Health Education draws from various sciences to promote health and prevent disease, disability, and premature death.

Health educators provide information on health and health related issues. They can assess health training needs and plan health education programs. They may specialize according to specific health concerns, illnesses, or work or training setting. Health educators may work as independent consultants or in health departments, community organizations, businesses, hospitals, schools, or government agencies. Health Educators often: 

  • Perform health training needs assessments.
  • Design and develop health education programs.
  • Publish health education materials, information papers, and grant proposals.
  • Develop health education curricula.
  • Teach health in public and private schools.

Skill Sets of Health Educators to Meet Public Health Needs

Health educators are uniquely positioned to address public health needs by deploying their training and competencies in the application of behavioral theories across a wide range of interventions designed to improve population health. Health educators use a holistic approach to changing health behaviors, implementing evidence-based interventions and adapting to changing population needs. For example, health educators can help multicultural populations with access to and use of the health system by improving their health insurance literacy and understanding of enrollment options and can conduct community health needs assessments required for nonprofit hospitals, modify policies or systems to improve access to preventive health services, and strengthen clinical and community linkages. In addition, health educators can develop and implement training programs for professionals and consumers, market health programs and services, conduct evaluation research, analyze data and educate populations about wellness behaviors (eg, vaccination campaigns, opioid abuse prevention programs), provide consultation to health agencies about different topics (eg, smoking prevention and cessation efforts), and apply their skills in cross-cultural communication and community organizing (eg, prenatal programs for expectant mothers in diverse communities) .

A health educator has training in public health, health promotion, or community health at the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral levels. To maintain the highest level of competence in the health education workforce, health educators can obtain additional certifications such as the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES), both awarded through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing to people who have met academic preparation and examination qualifications, which requires that the person remains up to date with education requisites, acquiring at least 75 continuing education contact hours every 5 years.

Source: Bruening RA, Coronado F, Auld ME, Benenson G, Simone PM. Health Education Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges. Prev Chronic Dis 2018;15:180045. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd15.180045 .




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