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An Interview with Frank Becerra, MPH, MCHES®, Supervising Health Education Specialist, County of San Bernardino

CHES® Career Profile: Health Education Specialist Supervisor

Health education specialists are some of the most underappreciated professionals working in public healthcare. Many programs that help communities thrive and individuals stay healthy are the work of health education specialists working to meet the needs of their fellow citizens. 

We sat down with Frank Becerra, a former EMT with more than 10 years of experience working to improve public health, to learn more about the role of a health education specialist and the advantages of pursuing CHES®/MCHES® certification for public health professionals. 

HEALTH EDUCATION CREDENTIALING →

About Frank

Frank Becerra is a former EMT with more than 10 years of experience in Public Health, Emergency Medicine, and Health Education. Currently, he is a Supervising Health Education Specialist with the County of San Bernardino in the state of California. He became CHES® certified in 2013, and received his MCHES® certification in 2019.

What does your role as a health education specialist entail?

As a Supervising Health Education Specialist, I oversee Health Education Specialists in the various programs of the Department of Public Health. In addition to the regular personnel responsibilities, I coordinate training, campaigns, and projects in the Health Promotion and Education Section. I also oversee a youth development program and am responsible for scheduling, budgets, and ensuring that the program is delivered with fidelity. 

What drew you to a career in health education and promotion?

I was on an ambulance for one year and worked in the University of California, San Francisco Emergency Department for four years. It was a fascinating experience, but I was struck by how many people were there because of preventable conditions. I felt like my work in the ER was similar to putting your finger in the dam. A few years later, I took care of my father with liver disease. His condition was preventable as well. At the same time, I had gone back to school to study nursing when I ran into Kim Clark, DrPH CHES® who introduced me to Public Health. I changed my major that day. 

What advice do you have to those who wish to share health education resources?

I encourage all health professionals to utilize LinkedIn and any other social media platform available to them. We need to spread awareness of the benefits of quality health education and thus ensure that hospitals, health departments, agencies, and Congressional Budget Offices (CBOs) know the value of and need for Certified Health Education Specialists.

READ MORE: The Value of Health Education Credentialing

How have recent events concerning the COVD-19 pandemic affected your work as a health education specialist?

As a result of COVID-19, I have turned most of my responsibilities in my primary program over to a health education specialist. As a supervisor, I am now one of the leads in San Bernardino County’s Joint Information Center for the COVID-19 Response. We field more than 500 calls per shift. We are currently staffed with ten call-takers. We have 2-3 health educators per shift serving in the GWPA (Gathering, Writing, Production, & Analysis) unit, an Incident Command System (ICS) function of the Joint Information Center. All employees in the Department of Public Health are considered Disaster Service Workers, and now it is ‘all hands on deck.’ Our Department’s health education specialists had previously received ICS training and have regularly trained for disaster response. I will most likely serve in this capacity for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis response. 

CHES® Certification for Public Health Educators

Are you seeking a fulfilling career that helps you make a difference in the world? Do you desire a way to make an impact on your community? Health education specialists are essential to our world, especially in times of crisis. As we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, health education specialists are particularly important when we face a public health crisis. 

Are you interested in becoming a public health educator? Consider CHES® certification. Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES®) are skilled in a variety of components of public and private health education responsibilities. Becoming a CHES® or MCHES® greatly increases your chances of finding employment in both public and private sectors. To learn more about the advantages of CHES® certification, click here.

How to Become a Health Education Specialist

Posted by Jessica Wessner at 7:00 AM
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