What is a Community Health Professional?
Community health professionals work with mass media, plan and conduct workshops, develop educational programs and act as a health information resource. The majority of all community health professionals work in healthcare and social assistance agencies, and many work in government organizations. Community health majors may also be employed by colleges, public and private schools, nonprofit organizations, private businesses, or in medical care settings.
A Community Health Professional should be able to promote:
- Collaborative Efforts – developing community-based programs
- Health Promotion – developing low literate, culturally appropriate materials, curricula and awareness campaigns
- Evaluation and Research – designing data collection tools to measure program processes and outcomes using quantitative and qualitative methods and reporting for multiple audiences
- Training and Staff Development – designing and conducting training for diverse audiences including clinicians, professional staff, community groups, parents and youth
- Resources for Health Professionals – developing monographs, white papers, literature reviews, research articles and developing continuing education for the web
Community health programs draw from various disciplines, including sociology, biology, nutrition, political science and economics. Course topics might include:
- Current health issues
- Health care organizations
- Health statistics
- Health disparities
- Ethics in health care
- Health care policy
B.S. Degree in Community Health (120 Credits)
Department: School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership
Students must complete the following course work:
COMH 200 Introduction to Health Promotion and Public Health (2)
COMH 315 Health Agencies and Services (3)
COMH 326 Epidemiology (3)
COMH 401 Health Aspects of Aging (3)
COMH 415 Design and Evaluation of Community Health Programs (3)
COMH 418 Global Health Issues (3)
COMH 469 Internship (8)
SW 499 Grant Writing Workshop must be taken for 3 credits.
ENGL 387 Technical Report Writing (4)
HLTH 110 Personal Health and Wellness (3)
HLTH 125 First Aid and CPR (2)
HLTH 305 Introduction to Nutrition (3)
HLTH 330 Disease Prevention (2)
HLTH 412 Education for Sexuality and HIV/AIDS (3)
HSAD 420 Health Policy and Payment (3)
MATH 234 Introduction to Probability and Statistics (3)
MC 220 Desktop Publishing (3)
PHIL 311 Morals and Medicine (3)
SOC 350 Methods and Statistics for Social Research (4)
SOC 375 Sociology of Health and Medicine (3)
SW 499 Social Work Workshops (1-3)
Hospitals and other health care providers employ community health educators to provide patients with knowledge and skills in areas such as health promotion, healthy living, disease prevention and management. You may also be involved in developing, implementing, and evaluating programs related to health promotion.
Businesses and corporations employ graduates with community health degrees to help promote employees’ health and wellness. You may work with employers to develop, implement and analyze health programs focusing on issues such as stress management, nutrition and job safety.
Government agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) deal with a variety of health issues at the local, state and national levels. As a graduate of a community health degree program, you could implement or develop programs for an organization specializing in the areas of heart disease, cancer or AIDS, to name a few.
You also might find a job with your state’s public health department, though a master’s degree may be required for these positions. Professionals in this sector may organize media releases or keep health care professionals abreast of the department’s policy decisions.
Community health educators also work for non-profit organizations such as a YMCA, March of Dimes or community health center. You may educate the public about available resources, such as free health screenings, nutritional supplement programs, counseling, etc. You also might create print materials about disease prevention methods. In some cases, this information may be addressed to specific groups of people, such as women or children.
Examples of career opportunities:
- Health Educator
- Foundation Director
- Non-profit Health Agency Director
- For-profit Health Agency Director
- Health Program Coordinator
- Health Program Counselor
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an 18% increase in jobs was projected for health educators through the 2008-2018 decade (http://www.bls.gov). This is in large part due to public and private agencies’ efforts to avoid paying for expensive health care treatments that could be prevented by changes in diet or behavior. The median yearly salary of a health educator was $45,830 as of May 2010.
Certification & Continuing Education:
The National Commission of Health Education Credentialing, Inc., awards the Certified Health Education Specialist credential to entry-level health educators who hold a bachelor’s degree and pass a certification exam. Continuing education is required to maintain certification. While certification is not always a requirement, some state public health departments require it, and many employers prefer to hire certified applicants. Other professional organizations, such as the Society for Public Health Education and the American Association for Health Education, provide continuing education opportunities.
Additional Educational Opportunities for MSUM students:
- Student Academic Conference
- Student Organizations
- Learning Communities
- University Honors Program
- Tri-College University
- Study Abroad
This Information was compiled from a variety of websites for the benefit of MSUM Community Health Graduates and prospective and current students. Links to the websites can be found here for further inquiry.
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