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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