Monday, October 20, 2014

Guest Post: National Health Education Week by Jaimi Allen

National Health Education Week
national health education week
Health education draws on various sciences and uses a theory-driven approach to prevent disease, illness, injury, and premature death and to promote health (Society for Public Health Education [SOPHE], 2014). Health education specialists (HES) utilize health education and health promotion to foster healthy decision-making among individuals, groups, and communities through increasing understanding, attitudes, and skills (SOPHE, 2014).

In an effort to raise awareness on how health education and HES impact public health, SOPHE began sponsoring National Health Education Week (NHEW). Beginning in 1995, NHEW is celebrated every third full week in October. This year’s NHEW falls on October 20-24th and will honor the next generation of specialists with various themes each day. The future relies on the young leaders and health education specialists. Therefore, it is imperative that current health educators focus on mentoring and supporting them, which is one of the reasons why this year’s theme focuses on the future of the profession by celebrating these young and bright individuals (SOPHE, 2014).

2014 NHEW daily themes:
  • Day 1, Monday, October 20:  Creating a shared vision for the future of health education
  • Day 2, Tuesday, October 21: Training and educating the next generation of HES
  • Day 3, Wednesday, October 22: Highlighting 30 HES under the age of 30
  • Day 4, Thursday, October 23: Employing the next generation of HES
  • Day 5, Friday, October 24: Mentoring the next generation of HES

In addition to hosting virtual events aimed at each of the varying themes, SOPHE provides a NHEW Toolkit including detailed instructions to encourage professionals to host local NHEW events. Be sure to check out the SOPHE website for additional information and resources. 

Society for Public Health Education. (2014). National health education week. Retrieved from

Jaimi L. Allen is currently in the Health Studies Doctoral Program at Texas Woman’s University. Her focal area is public health and her research interests include a wide variety of topics such as physical activity, sexuality, and body image. She is an active service member of the United States Navy Reserves and a full-time clinical instructor at the University of Central Arkansas. UCA is also where she earned her undergraduate and graduate degree focusing on health education and community health.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Spotlight - Interview with Dr. Ann Rathbun, Program Director for Health Studies

We had the opportunity to sit down virtually with Dr. Ann Rathbun, the new program director for Health Studies, and chat with her a bit about her background, alter ego, and the future of health education. Here's what she had to say:

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a native Texan and am from Amarillo, Texas. I spent 10 years in Denton County getting my Masters, working and earning my Ph.D. in the 1990s. After 2 professorates - one in Ohio and one in Kentucky-totaling 15 years, I am HOME!!! I have played the cello for more than 40 years and have been able to live in university towns where there are opportunities to play with an orchestra.  I love to cook, read, walk for fitness and listen to music…I hate to practice the cello!

As an alum, what is the best part about being back at TWU?  
The best part about being back is the feeling of my life (personal and professional) coming full circle. I left here to begin my profession as a health educator and now I am back where I began but with experience and skills that I didn’t have when I was here before.  Personally, my time away from Texas was nothing short of transformative for me.  I moved to a place where I didn’t know a single soul and had to grow up and grow into my own person.  It was a great experience for me in so many ways.

How do you define student success and what are some of the ways you help students achieve success?

I define student success as GROWTH.  On the path to success students will experience ups and downs, successes and disappointments.  If students will learn from all of those experiences they will ultimately grow into unique and qualified professionals who will contribute to the profession. If students do not allow themselves to learn and grow from ALL experiences, they will never truly be successful.

It has been my “quest” in past years to maintain an open door policy with all students.  The open door allows students to come to for help or support without the barrier of a physical (or perceived) door.  By maintaining this practice of openness, students took the opportunity to engage in informal mentoring, get support, and connect to someone at the university.  In my experience, there is not one single faculty or staff member that will connect with all students; rather, some students will gravitate toward certain mentors and others will go elsewhere.

As many of our students know, we like to have fun in Health Studies. We have held themed orientations complete with alter egos such as Mo Solo, Hoda Fett, and Dee Dee Wan Kenobi from our Star Wars orientation. We also had a Mission Impossible orientation with passports and top secret missions. Sometimes we even make up code names for each other.  Who would your alter ego be or what would your code name be?    

Alter ego:  Ringmaster P.  Sometimes the workplace (ANY workplace) can be a bit of a circus in that there is always a LOT of things going on all at once.  The Ringmaster’s job is to know what is going on and coordinate, as much as possible, all the acts that occur simultaneously.  I like that sort of challenge and enjoy dappling in many different areas.  The “P”????  Well…..that is for a later edition of this blog. 

Since it's October and Halloween isn't too far away, let's pull out our crystal ball for a moment. What do you see for the future of health education?   

I see a world where the profession BLOWS UP due to the changes in the Affordable Care Act.  The services that health educators can provide will be billable (aka reimbursed by insurance).  Nurses cannot do what we do because they have different training and education.  Likewise, physicians have very specialized skill sets that do not include things such as behavior change or coaching for change in terms of health and wellness.  There is a gap in healthcare and there is an entire population of health educators waiting in the wings to fill that gap.  We must, however; advocate for our profession to make this vision a reality.

What is your favorite quote and why?  

“What goes around, comes around.”  I love this because I feel that what you put out there comes back to you tenfold.  If you put love out there, you will get love back!

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?  

I am glad to be in Texas, in Denton, on campus and in CFO….where education makes professional careers possible!

If you haven't had a chance yet, we hope you will drop her a line and welcome her to TWU Health Studies! You can reach Dr. Rathbun at

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Soft Skills are Important Too

First of all, what are soft skills and how to they make a difference in a career? Soft skills are the combined personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social charm that a person possesses. Employers look at soft skills to see if the person is compatible with the office/work environment. Also, research has shown that soft skills are just as significant indicator for job performance, which is exactly what employers look for in a candidate (Lorenz, 2014). In other words, soft skills are essential for any job because they demonstrate how you work rather than what learned in college. Examples of soft skills are: Strong work ethic, positive attitude, good communication skills, time management abilities, problem-solving skills, acting as a team player, self-confidence, ability to accept and learn from criticism, flexibility/adaptability, working well under pressure, critical observation and conflict resolution.

Bill Coplin wrote 10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College and it focuses on the soft skills employers want to see in college graduates.
1). Establish a good work ethic. Meaning employees need to be honest, manage time and money.
2). Develop physical skills. Employers want their employees to stay well and appear professional.
3). Communicate verbally. This means employers want employees to be able to hold a conversation and present information to groups. This also means employees have to effectively communicate with clients as well.
4). Written communication. Employees should be able to effectively communicate via email, write well, edit, proofread, use a word processor and be able to send information electronically.
5). Work directly with people, which means build good relationships, work as a team and teach others.
6). Influence people. Yes, that means leading effectively and managing efficiently.
7). Gather information by searching library holdings, searching databases, conduct interviews, use surveys, keep and use records.
8). Use quantitative tools. This means using numbers, graphs, tables, spreadsheets effectively in the workplace.
9). Know how to ask and answer the right questions by paying attention to detail and evaluating actions and policies.
10). Know how to identify problems, develop a plan, and launch a solution.
According to the Career Advisory Board, there is a skills gap between how hiring managers rank importance of a job skill and how entry level job seekers rank the skill. Hiring managers thought that the most important skills were their employees’ ability to work with others,  flexibility and interpersonal skills. On the other hand, those who were entry-level job seekers thought high integrity, problem solving and strong communication were the most important soft skills (Morgan, 2014).

The great thing about the Department of Health Studies is that students learn all of these things through the coursework, especially the working well with others. Since health educators need to work with a variety of groups, group projects play an important role in the programs. The curriculum for programs offered by the Department of Health Studies is designed to help students be prepared for the workforce. In particular, the undergraduate program has an Internship Preparation course as well as a required Internship.

Whether you are a current TWU Health Studies student, an alum, or a community member and find yourself needing help in refining your soft skills, there are curriculum and activities that can help you. Check out the Office of Disability Employment Policy and they have activities to improve soft skills. If you are a student, you might want to contact the Pioneer Center for Student Excellence or the TWU Career Services.

Coplin, B. (2003). 10 things employers want you to learn in college. New York: Ten Speed Press.
Lorenz, K. (2014). Top 10 soft skills for job hunters: People skills and relationship-building are key to success. Retrieved from
Morgan, H. (2014). Job search help for new college graduates. Retrieved from