The Growing Need for Health Educators
An Interview with Julie Luht, Master Certified Health Education Specialist
MUIH: Why are health education and the role of health educators so important for the future of health care?
Julie Luht: Health education and disease prevention programs can substantially decrease healthcare costs. According to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the percentage of the American gross domestic product (GDP) spent on healthcare tripled between 1960 and 2006. This cost increase reflects advances in technology to treat and medicate diseases. If we could prevent these diseases in the first place through lifestyle interventions, we would save millions of dollars. Health education specialists are uniquely qualified to plan, deliver, and evaluate cost-effective and sometimes cost-saving prevention programs.
How are health educators different from health coaches and nutritionists?
Health coaches and nutritionists often work one-on-one with clients to orchestrate behavior change. The role of a health education specialist is much broader. Health education specialists are skilled in seven areas of responsibility. They are professionally trained to: evaluate needs, assets, and capacity for health education; plan health education; implement health education; conduct evaluation and research related to health education; administer and manage health education; serve as health education resource people; and communicate and advocate for health and health education.
What is unique about Tai Sophia's new Master of Science in Health Education and Integrative Health program?
Tai Sophia’s program is a unique blend of complementary and integrative medicine and health education. There is not another health education program in the country that prepares students to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam and allows students to explore their interests in complementary and integrative medicine. In addition, the program at Tai Sophia broadens students’ skill set beyond that of other master’s degree programs in health education by focusing on physiology, neuroscience, and alternative methods.
Why is Tai Sophia uniquely positioned to offer this program?
Tai Sophia has a long history of teaching holistic health practices and will provide quality foundations in health education, while drawing on its experience in alternative and complementary medicine. This program will also be offered in a weekend format, which makes it possible for working adults to pursue an advanced degree while still working.
What career opportunities do you see for graduates of this program?
I think that now is a great time to become a health education specialist. The Affordable Care Act will open up a lot of opportunities for prevention, including $75 million set aside for federal, state, and community initiatives to use evidence-based interventions to address tobacco control, obesity prevention, HIV-related health disparities, and better nutrition and physical activity.
A graduate of Tai Sophia would easily be able to step into a community health position or a job in worksite wellness.
Learn more about the Master of Science in Health Education and Integrative Health and join us for I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing: The Art and Science of Making Health Decisions with Julie Luht.
Julie Luht is part of the first cohort of Master Certified Health Education Specialists (MCHES). She specializes in nutrition and exercise program design, public health consulting, curriculum design, working with adolescent and young adult populations, and conducting needs assessments. She is also a program advisor for Tai Sophia’s Master of Science in Health Education and Integrative Health program.