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What is a Health Educator?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 May 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A health educator is someone who provides information about health issues, in an attempt to reduce public health problems and to provide people with the tools they need to seek appropriate medical care. Health educators can work in a variety of environments, ranging from school health education programs to government agencies, and they are typically passionate about public health. Employment prospects in this field are usually quite good, especially for people who are willing to travel.

In order to become a health educator, one must naturally have some form of health education. In some cases, health educators are doctors or nurses who have chosen to use their training and experience to educate. In other cases, a health educator holds a degree in public health, biology, or a related field. In both cases, health educators typically keep up with continuing education programs so that they are aware of developments in the field of public health.

Health educators provide a wide range of information. At a minimum, a health educator talks about ways to stay healthy, talking about issues like food safety, diet, exercise, sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, family planning, and potential vectors of disease like unclean water and unsanitary facilities. It is common for a health educator to hand out pamphlets, encourage people to ask questions, and offer advice and counseling to those who request it.

Some health educators work in clinics and hospitals, meeting with patients to discuss various health issues. For example, someone who comes to Planned Parenthood for treatment may meet with a health educator first to talk about birth control options, sexually transmitted infections, and any other concerns. In some cases, health educators also visit private homes as representatives of the government to offer assistance to people like new mothers and family members who are caring for relatives with disabilities or chronic health problems.

Health educators also actively work in communities. They may establish a presence at youth centers, women's shelters, facilities for the homeless, and other locations where visitors could be exposed to a public health message. They may also travel to remote communities, especially in the developing world, to talk about health and sanitation issues.

Preventative care programs are often run by health educators, with the goal of talking about potential health problems before they become issues. In these cases, health educators may work with medical professionals to offer testing, counseling, and other assistance. They may also collect data on public health issues, using this data to shape an effective public health program which addresses the specific needs of an individual community.

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