In celebration of National Health Education Week, we are interviewing four accomplished CHES® and MCHES® in varying career sectors across the country. Today, we are chatting with CHES® Chase Messersmith, Community Health Educator with Community Health Network, Indiana.
NCHEC: How did you become a Community Health Educator?
Chase: I graduated from Purdue University with a BS in Public Health Promotion and a minor in organizational leadership and supervision. I was able to complete internships with Purdue University Extension in health and wellness, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis as a human resource benefits intern, and also with Crop Production Services as a promotion/marketing intern. I was then hired as a Health Educator with WebMD Health Services and subsequently by Purdue University as a Community Wellness Coordinator. Currently, I am working as a Community Health Educator with Community Health Network of Indiana.
NCHEC: What are your main tasks in your current position?
Chase: I work with the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program, which is one of the only CDC programs that explicitly focuses on reducing chronic diseases for specific racial and ethnic groups in urban, rural, and tribal communities with high disease burden. A lot of my work deals with community partner organizations and community stakeholders to reduce health disparities. We do this through culturally tailored interventions to address preventable risk behaviors such as poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and food insecurity. I also work with priority populations in Marion County to implement their Produce Rx program, which includes collaborating with existing diabetes prevention and management programs and/or other appropriate patient education programs. Other programs I work on include Fresh Bucks (double up bucks program), and Healthy Food Retail Initiative, where I assist in identifying funds that can support Nutrition Incentive Programs.
NCHEC: What do you love most about your job?
Chase: I love the ability to provide resources, programs, education, and positive change to improve the lives and livelihoods of the community. I find happiness in helping others become happier and this “job” allows me the opportunity to work at doing that each day.
NCHEC: What advice can you give to young professionals who wish to become health education specialists?
Chase: Make sure to accept the internship/job that is out of your comfort zone or different from the typical public health position. There is always ways to incorporate health education into everything we do and those experiences will serve as an opportunity to grow! Always stay connected to previous coworkers, professors, classmates, and friends in the field, because you never know when you will cross paths again in the future. Never stop learning and connecting, and encourage your employer to fund continuing education and certifications!