NCHEC is extremely proud of the many health CHES® and MCHES® who serve as essential personnel in many different sectors across the US. Health Education Specialists have assumed critical roles in the identification, control, and assurance of the needs of individuals and communities. They advocate fiercely for public protection measures, and support many other critical health education and health behavior measures. As our nation continues to move forward in addressing and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of a competent certified health education workforce is as significant and essential as ever before.
The following interview is part of a new series to highlight the remarkable work efforts of our credential-holders
Name: Tina Marie Devlin, MPH, MCHES®
Job Title: Well-Being Consultant/ Adjunct Instructor
Years Experience: 17
Career Sector: Business/Healthcare and College Health
NCHEC: What is your current job title and where do you work?
Tina Marie: My full-time job is as a Well-Being Consultant with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. But I also work as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of South Carolina (USC) in the Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB) Department. It is my role as an Adjunct Instructor that I would like to share with you today.
NCHEC: What are your job duties as an Adjunct Professor at USC?
Tina Marie: I teach an undergraduate HPEB 470 Global Health course to approximately 100 students every semester on the topic of global health. I implement various teaching strategies and interactive activities to ensure my students are grasping the course material and the overall learning outcomes are achieved. These outcomes include:
These outcomes include:
- Defining relevant global health concepts,
- Listing key organizations in global health and the ways in which they work together to address global health problems,
- Identifying major causes of morbidity and mortality affecting various populations,
- Differentiating between the determinants of health and social determinants of health, and
- Describing issues of inequity, inequality, and health disparities as they relate to the health of vulnerable populations in low-and middle-income countries.
NCHEC: How has your role changed as a result of COVID-19?
Tina Marie: I teach in a face-to-face environment because it allows for more interaction and discussion opportunities with my students. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, all Educators/Instructors moved from face-to-face teaching to either synchronous or asynchronous learning. I had to completely alter my syllabus, learning activities, and assessment methods very quickly. I also had to rely more on our Learning Management System (Blackboard) as opposed to providing updates in-person, in-class. I also had to learn how to use new technology tools through our Learning Management System (I had to complete quick tutorials and meet with my Center for Teaching Excellence Consultant to become more familiar with these tools).
NCHEC: Give an example of how your organization is providing health education & support to students/youth?
Tina Marie: During the pandemic, I started sending consistent twice per week Blackboard and email updates to the students on topics related to the pandemic. Every update I sent would include a relevant public health article from reliable and credible sources, such as the WHO, CDC, UNICEF, UNAIDS, The UN, etc., so the students could stay abreast of how the pandemic was impacting countries globally. I also implemented weekly sessions called "Wednesday Chit Chats" that were open forums for the students to discuss the impact of the pandemic in a virtual classroom. These open forums were structured with "Community Rules" and a "Community Agenda" to guide the conversation every week. These weekly sessions provided an opportunity for the students and me to have rich discussions around the social, economic, and health impact of the pandemic in high, middle, and low-income countries. These sessions also provided a touch base for students who were isolated and unable to socialize with their peers and instructors.
NCHEC: Have you experienced increased recognition of the role of the health education specialist since the onset of COVID-19?
Tina Marie: The most significant and obvious stride was the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine and seeing the positive impact thus far. In addition, more public health focused webinars were provided to professionals to ensure we stayed abreast of relevant and critical topics. I was able to attain quite a few free MCHES CEU's during the pandemic, which was very helpful for my professional growth. Even though we could not attend meetings, seminars, and/or conferences in-person, public health professionals still found ways to "socialize" with one another and lean on each other during this difficult time. It seemed as though communication from SOPHE, NCHEC, APHA, and other entities improved during this time. In addition, I am part of a job announcement listserv specifically for HPEB focused careers and it seems as though more job opportunities were available in the last 15 months.
NCHEC: What advice do you have for newly certified health education specialists ready to enter the current work force?
Tina Marie: I have a few pieces of advice:
- When you are applying for jobs, ask about professional development opportunities and whether the potential employer has a budget for this. This is critical to remain relevant and up-to-date on various topics. If your employer does not have the budget to send you to conferences (local, state based, national, and/or international), ask if they allow flexibility in your work schedule to attend free SOPHE, CDC, NCHEC, APHA webinars.
- Join your local public health and/or health education organizations for networking and leadership opportunities.
- Subscribe to a credible online newspaper or health education specific journal to stay abreast of national and global health issues (I subscribe to the New York Times and the $4.99/month I pay is worth it). Within this newspaper, I subscribe to health and race related op-eds and topics which are helpful as an MCHES® and Adjunct Instructor of Global Health.