12 Skills A Certified Health Education Specialist Uses To Promote Health and Wellness
Do you know what a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) does in the health and wellness world? If you do not know, then you are not alone! Certified Health Education Specialists (more commonly known as “health educators”) main goal is to educate you about behaviors that promote wellness. They also work with individuals, families, and communities to create, implement, oversee, and analyze programs and strategies that promote health and well-being. You can learn about my role as a Certified Health Education Specialist by viewing my profile here.
Certified Health Education Specialists utilize their knowledge, skills, and training to assess and guide you to meet your health needs. They utilize appropriate health education strategies to facilitate the development of policies, procedures, interventions, and systems beneficial to the well-being of individuals, groups, and communities. They can work in hospitals, clinics, schools, businesses, government offices, universities, and non-profits (just to name a few)!
A Certified Health Education Specialist has to meet required academic preparation qualifications and successfully pass a competency-based examination administered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. A CHES® must hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in health education or significant and specific coursework in the field. The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) is the credentialing body responsible for the certification.
Certified Health Education Specialists use 12 main skills to help you achieve your health and wellness goals:
Skill #1: Communication Skills
Certified Health Education Specialists are skilled at conveying information and messages to others. They do this by being an active listener, being attentive, and using clear and concise language. CHES communicates with others in order to teach them about healthy habits/behaviors and strategies they can use to improve their health and well-being.
Skill #2: Problem-Solving Skills
Certified Health Education Specialists are skilled at identifying health issues and coming up with effective solutions for the problem. They can work with individuals to create health and wellness plans for their specific health concerns. They use critical thinking to evaluate the issues and tailor their educational strategies (using various teaching methods) to individuals to decrease their chances of developing certain diseases (disease prevention).
Skill #3: Culturally Competent
Certified Health Education Specialists are aware of the importance of learning about other cultures than their own. This skill is very important to have because health educators teach to diverse groups of people. CHES works with individuals with a variety of cultures with distinct practices and beliefs, so they are aware of how important it is for them to be respectful of the cultures of all individuals they meet virtually. As an example, some individuals may not want to receive a certain form of health care due to their specific beliefs. It is the health educator’s responsibility to decide what the optimal health and wellness strategies are for each person.
Skill #4: Motivational Interviewing and Behavior Change Methods
Certified health education specialists are skilled at working as program educators and health advocates who provide health counseling and education for individuals using motivational interviewing techniques and behavior change methods. Health educators work with individuals so they can benefit from health education programs, which can be a very challenging but rewarding experience! Some examples include:
- Educating pregnant mothers on the dangers of smoking and helping them make a plan to quit
- Working with type 2 diabetics to create an individualized health and wellness plan for optimum health
- Helping parents understand how to make healthy food purchases for their families at the grocery store
- Working with individuals to overcome alcohol and drug addiction in order to enjoy more fulfilling lives
Skill #5: Teaching Skills
Certified Health Education Specialists have very good teaching skills! They have obtained these skills through training so they can educate individuals about a wide range of health topics. They were taught through their educational program how to effectively present information in interesting ways that motivate people into action. They are able to do this by accurately interpreting people’s level of understanding and modifying their instruction to accommodate people’s diverse learning styles.
Skill #6: Health and Wellness Knowledge
Certified Health Education Specialists have detailed knowledge of the principles of health and wellness. For example, they know many aspects of health such as how to eat healthily, navigate the health care system, provide vaccination information, and treatment and recovery for individuals or groups. You can access my expert sessions on Simple Sun Protection Strategies With Pamela, Using the 5 R’s to Quit Smoking With Pamela, Cutting Out Added Sugars With Pamela, and Three Simple Steps to Increase Physical Activity With Pamela, and Health Screening Guideline Review With Pamela. They may use their research skills to develop the best and most effective practices to improve health.
Skill #7: Resource Person
Certified Health Education Specialists are skilled at being resource persons. They serve as a resource to assist individuals, other health professionals, or the community. They also may administer fiscal resources for health education programs. They are very skilled at helping people find health information that is evidence-based, factual, and reputable. They also help people find health services they may need to be able to maintain their health and wellness. It is the health educator’s job to make sure that people receive the health resources that best benefit them and pertain to their personal situations and cultural norms.
Skill #8: Relationship Building
Certified Health Education Specialists possess excellent relationship-building skills. For example, they are able to connect with individuals in order to effectively educate them about health promotion, disease prevention, and wellness. They also use this skill to educate others about health initiatives and develop programs to meet each individual’s health needs. This skill also requires the health educator to be able to listen with empathy and understanding so they can effectively fulfill their role as a health counselor and health coach.
Skill #9: Passion for Health and Helping Others
Certified Health Education Specialists are passionate about what they are teaching to their clients. Even though they are not 100% perfectly healthy themselves, they are human beings who relate to your needs. They have received many years of formal education and training learning about health, so they are very committed to living a healthy life and want to enthusiastically lead by example. When they are passionate about what they love (health and wellness), then their positive energy and excitement will inspire you too!
Skill #10: Research
Certified Health Education Specialists are very proficient in research! They use their research skills to gather data, test hypotheses, and perform analyses to strengthen their health and education strategies. “They may educate themselves about demographic information of an area, previous health measures, and potential benefits of intervention. This can help them develop evidence-based programs and resources.” For example, a health educator may gather data to determine the most effective health intervention for a health problem.
Skill #11: Empathy
A Certified Health Education Specialist goes into the profession with the ability to show empathy. Empathy is important because it shows that you have your client’s best interests in mind and are there for them every step of the way towards their health and wellness journey! It is difficult for your clients to make changes in their behavior, so they need your support to prevent them from quitting. On the more positive side, your clients may feel very proud of their accomplishments and want to go full steam towards meeting their health and wellness goals!
As a health coach, health educators stick with their clients through the good and bad! They work hard to be a personable, approachable, present, supportive, enthusiastic, and compassionate partner in meeting your health and wellness goals and aspirations!
Skill #12: Professionalism
Certified Health Education Specialists have gained the skill of being professional. In fact, this skill may be the most important health coaching and counseling skill to possess! For example, individuals have a right to feel like they are respected for their effort, commitment, and time. Health educators have learned that they need to treat their clients with respect by being punctual for sessions, acting in a professional manner, and being prompt when following up on action items that were promised for the client.
Certified Health Education Specialists are highly trained experts who can help you on your path to health and wellness. They often develop programs that provide life-saving health initiatives. Health education specialists teach individuals how to stay healthy by educating them about both the factors that put people at risk for various diseases and the behaviors that improve wellness.
Certified Health Education Specialists utilize astute communication and problem-solving skills when working with their clients. Since they work with people from all walks of life, they must build a rapport with them and be culturally competent in their interactions with them.
Health educators are trained on how to teach and communicate health information in clear and accessible ways. They are active listeners and are trained in how to give and receive feedback when assessing clients' needs and developing trust. They are skilled at using motivational interviewing and behavior change methods to help individuals reach their health and wellness goals.
About The Author
Pamela Rafferty-Semon is a Well Me Right Wellness Expert and a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). She is certified to promote health and prevent disease, increase awareness of screening programs to identify many health conditions, help understand medical diagnoses and options for treatment, connect with trustworthy resources to teach how to stay healthy, and educate about risk factors for disease and behaviors to improve wellness. She was trained to use evidence-based skillful conversation and utilize clinical strategies and interventions to actively and safely engage my clients in health behavior change to better self-manage their health, health risk, and acute or chronic health conditions. She has also been a Registered Nurse (RN) for over 30 years and a nurse educator (MSN-ED) for 13 years teaching undergraduate nursing students how to care for other. Pamela is a researcher and life-long learner! She is also currently a Ph.D. student in the Health Education and Promotion Program at Kent State University.
Book Wellness Expert sessions offered by Pamela on Well Me Right.