Health educators assist individuals and communities in preventing and changing negative health behaviors and health outcomes that are linked to disease, disability and poor quality of life. They have specialized skills in planning, implementing and evaluating community programs that focus on negative health issues such as smoking, obesity, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, unprotected sexual activity, youth violence, inactivity, eating disorders, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, safety and stress.
Western Michigan University's health education program is divided into two tracks.
- The community health education emphasis prepares candidates in non-school health settings such as public health departments, hospitals, work site health promotion, and non-profit community agencies.
- The school health education or health education teacher preparation emphasis prepares pre-service teacher candidates to be certified to teach health education in public schools. Graduates also find employment in other health education venues such as community health and safety agencies. This program is approved by the American Association for Health Education and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Beyond the classroom
If you decide to enter WMU's school health education program, you will be required to complete a one-semester internship within a 60-mile radius of the University. You will be placed with a selected mentor teacher and closely supervised by school health education faculty. The internship is designed to prepare you to be a self-reflective teacher with skills based on professional standards from the Michigan Department of Education and the American Association for Health Education. As a result of this experience, you will demonstrate your knowledge, skills, disposition and ability to work with diverse populations, aiding your transition from a pre-service candidate to an entry-level health educator.
If you decide to enter WMU's community health education program, you will be required to complete a 400- to 600-hour internship. The internship is designed to be a capstone experience that provides you with an opportunity to utilize your skills and knowledge working in a health education setting. This experience should provide you with the opportunity to observe, participate with and learn from health professionals working in community-based settings. Prior to beginning the internship, you are required to have completed all coursework directly associated with your health education degree.
As a health education student at WMU, you will also be encouraged to take advantage of networking and professional development opportunities made available to you through registered student organizations such as Eta Sigma Gamma, a national health education honorary focused on the professional development of student initiates as educators, researchers, service providers, and advocates.
After you graduate
Recent WMU graduates with degrees in health education are working as:
- Classroom teachers
- Communication specialists
- Grant writers
- Health and wellness coaches
- Worksite or corporate health program directors
Among the organizations they work for are:
- Community health and safety agencies
- Community-based organizations
- Health insurance companies
- Public health departments
Where is this program offered?