How to Become a Health Education Professional

Christy Bazan is an instructional assistant professor and program director of the health education program at Illinois State University. She earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental health from Illinois State University and a Master of Public Health from Illinois Benedictine College. Christy is also a master certified health education specialist. She has worked in health education for the past 16 years. She has taught both school and community health education majors, focusing on human disease, public health, school health curriculum and media and materials in health education. Before entering academia, Christy worked at a public health department and also collaborated with area schools and other health professionals.

What is health education?

Health education is the process of educating individuals about health through a reflective look at their physical, intellectual, social, environmental, occupational, spiritual, and emotional wellness.

What do you find most interesting about health education?

I love health education! However, I think there are challenges we all face with discussing sensitive topics, which sometimes can make health education difficult.

Are there subfields of health education that students might not be aware of?

I believe that students are not as familiar with the professional career areas in health education. They understand the content areas but struggle in realizing that health education happens in so many areas but most often in public health environments, schools, voluntary agencies, hospitals, social service agencies, wellness facilities, etc.

What careers do students commonly pursue with a degree in health education?

Most of the students from our program either teach in a middle school or high school in Illinois, or work in a public health environment, at a voluntary agency or a hospital employee wellness facility.

Is a graduate degree preferable for a career in health education, or can someone enter the field with a bachelor’s degree?

Students can enter the field with a bachelor’s degree.

What personality traits do you think a student should have in order to be successful in a health education program?

Students pursuing a career in health education need to be self-motivated, organized and reliable. They must also have excellent presentation skills, passion for working with others, especially clients and customers, and realize that health education is constantly changing; in order to stay current, you must be willing to study what is new in the profession and field.

What electives would you recommend that a student in a health education program take?

Courses on public health, aging, epidemiology, environmental health, nutrition and fitness would all be helpful.

What study tips would you give to a student to help him or her succeed in a health education program?

Be organized! Stay informed on the changes happening in the field. Always be prepared for class in your written and oral work. Challenge yourself to strive for the best in all that you do.

Do you think health education is a subject that can be studied online, or is a traditional class environment ideal?

I would recommend a traditional classroom environment.

What subjects should a prospective student of health education study before entering a formal college program?

Math, science, health, and physical education as well as having an understanding of populations from a socioeconomic standpoint.

What pieces of advice, or caution, would you offer to a student who is considering going into health education?

Love what you do and that will make you successful. Be aware that because sometimes the information we cover is sensitive and controversial you may face adversity in what you want to share. Do your best to provide comprehensive health education to your clients and customers.