Preventive Care is a type of healthcare that adopts preventive measures and health screenings to help people prevent disease and diagnose a problem early which helps reduce treatment costs.
The best example of preventive healthcare’s value involves cigarette smoking.
Cigarette smokers become addicted to nicotine. But the original decision to light up is preventable. Educating potential smokers on the dangers can reduce the number of people who make that decision.
Numbers show that health education works. The percentage of Americans who smoke has dropped from 43% to 18%, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health.
But work remains to be done. That same study found smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the country. And cigarettes cost the healthcare industry about $300 billion.
Smoking provides an example of how health education benefits individuals, groups and society. It also explains why it is a growing profession. Many students who seek a bachelor’s degree in health science choose to focus on health education .
What Health Educators Do
Health educators teach people how to live a healthy life. That means trying to eat well, exercise daily, reduce stress and avoid bad habits. They advocate for social change that improves health and wellness outcomes for everyone.
Health educators work many jobs. They include work in community centers, schools, residential living facilities, and hospitals. They work with individual patients or large communities. Some focus on the elderly or children.
Job duties vary by location. For example, a health educator at a community center evaluates the needs of the community they serve. They develop health outreach programs and host events. They work to reach as many people as possible. They provide guidance to people on finding the health services they need.
In a manager’s role, they train staff on the best practices for delivering services.
The Value of Health Education and Preventive Care
The growing number of health educators provides an indication of the job’s importance. Federal projections call for a 16% increase in the number of health educators nationwide by 2026.
Health education also promotes use of preventive care. This includes mammograms and tests to look for signs of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Catching these early leads to better patient outcomes.
As pointed out by the Centers for Disease Control, chronic diseases account for 7 out of every 10 deaths in the United States. They are “largely preventable through close partnerships with your healthcare team, or can be detected through appropriate screenings when treatment works best.”
Healthcare educators serve as part of that team. They work on the frontlines, teaching people lifestyle choices that minimize the onset of disease or chronic conditions. It’s a critical job. The CDC reports Americans use preventive healthcare services at about half the recommended rate.
A degree in health education offers graduates knowledge in many health sciences. Those include physical, biological, social and behavioral fields. Health educators use this knowledge to design programs that best help people live healthier lives.