The program is divided into two emphases:
The Health Education (School Emphasis) program is recognized nationally as an approved program by the American Association for Health Education and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (2006).
Health educators specialize in assisting individuals and communities, 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.
The School Health Education emphasis prepares teacher candidates for certification to teach in public schools. Graduates also find employment in other health education venues such as community health and safety agencies (e.g., American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, and county health departments). This program is recognized nationally as an approved program by the American Association for Health Education and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (2006).
Community Health Education emphasis graduates will typically work in hospitals, worksite/corporate health promotion programs, local health departments, government agencies (public health departments), health insurance companies (HMOs) and a variety of community-based organizations such as substance abuse agencies, pregnancy prevention programs, HIV/AIDS prevention programs, community assessment initiatives and heart and cancer associations.
The School Health Education program requires that all candidates complete a one-semester internship within a 60-mile radius of Western Michigan University. Candidates are placed with selected mentor teachers and are closely supervised by school health education faculty. This internship prepares candidates to be self-reflective teachers 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, candidates will demonstrate their knowledge, skills, disposition and ability to work with diverse populations that aid their transition from a pre-service candidate to an entry-level health educator.
The Community Health Education internship is designed to be a capstone experience that provides students with an opportunity to utilize their skills and knowledge working in a health education setting. This experience should provide the student with the opportunity to observe, participate with and learn from health professionals working in community-based settings. Majors are required to complete a 400 to 600-hour internship. Prior to beginning the internship, students are required to have completed all course work directly associated with their health education degree.