Kathy Hedin, a Certified Health Education Specialist with Saint Paul-Ramsey County Public Health, talks about her job.
Q: What's a typical workday like for you?
A: I work in a group called Healthy Communities, in primary prevention of violence, focusing on parents and small children. Another audience is professionals and parents of teens, educating them on raising and sustaining healthy, happy young people. I create documents and brochures for our programs. I speak at conferences on violence prevention and creating welcoming environments. I write curricula for guides to raising sexually healthy children and young people. I'm creating messages for a lot different cultures, ethnicities, languages and ages, working with people so I can better understand who they are and what they need.
Q: How does your role fit into the bigger health care picture?
A: I'm guiding people on a path to help them stay healthy and prevent violence and other negative behaviors rather than getting them back into health once they're sick. It's basic primary prevention.
Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?
A: I interact with other health educators, people from universities and community organizations, libraries, museums, different social service agencies. I also work with Web designers, other county departments and print shops.
Q: Why did you become a health educator?
A: I was studying to become an athletic trainer in college, but switched to environmental health when I became concerned about unsanitary habits of restaurant workers. I worked in environmental health for the first few years before I was laid off due to department budget cuts and when I was asked to return, it was to a position in Healthy Communities.
Q: What do you like about your work?
A: I like the diversity and creativity in the work. I use software and other tools intentionally and very specifically for our audiences. I appreciate working in public health and when things like pandemics or flu outbreaks come along, I can switch gears and easily adapt.