Community Health

Western's Community Health program is nationally, regionally, and locally recognized as a rigorous professional development program for entry-level health educators. Community Health educators assess individual and community needs for health education, plan, implement and administer health education strategies, interventions and programs, conduct evaluation and research, serve as a health education resource, and communicate and advocate for health and health education.

The program is rigorous and faculty members emphasize diverse classroom projects and community outreach. Students explore the biological, social, environmental and individual determinants of health, taking two to three years of course work in Health Education and supporting areas, including social sciences (Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology), biological and physical sciences (Anatomy and Physiology, Exercise Physiology, and Chemistry), nutrition, and electives that complement a student's interests and professional needs.

The curriculum is based on the skills and competencies to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) through the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing, Inc. 

Western’s Health and Human Development Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“Community Health students and alumni are selfless individuals who serve others and are truly making a difference in the world. The major may be smaller with the number of students, but the impact of the program is great!”  –Jeanne Freeman, Former Community Health Faculty

Beyond the Classroom

At the end of the program, a full-time, 10-week internship in a health education setting is required. The Community Health internship program has received high accolades from community partners across Washington state and many agencies offer internships exclusively to Western Community Health students.

Students have completed internships with Swedish Medical Center, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Sea Mar Community Health Clinics, Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood, Whatcom County Health Department, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., and have served abroad in Guatemala, Uganda, Egypt, Australia, and Nepal.

Students who are interested in participating in research are invited to join faculty on various projects. Students help publish peer-reviewed articles, present at national conferences (including the national Society for Public Health Education), and compete in national case study competitions.

Careers and Graduate Studies

The Community Health major is appropriate for students who want to work in community, public, and global health, health communication, governmental and non-profit agencies and organizations, medical care settings, worksite wellness programs, and college and university student service health education programs. It can also serve as a preparatory program for graduate or post-baccalaureate study in health education, public health, and related areas. 

The majority of Community Health graduates choose to take the national Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam, which is a voluntary certification. Western alumni have a 99.5% pass rate and generally outscore the national average by more than 18 points (about a 12%).

Employers of Recent Western Graduates: 

  • Access Living, Inc.: Direct Support Professional 
  • Brigid Collins: Prevention Initiative Coordinator 
  • Denver Health-Westside Clinic: Patient Navigator 
  • Highgate Senior Living: Certified Nursing Assistant and Medication Aide 
  • New Beginnings: Women’s and Children’s Advocate Relief Worker 
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network: Community Engagement Coordinator 
  • Seattle Cancer Care Alliance: Program Assistant for Staff Education and Nutrition 
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital: Family Service Coordinator 
  • United General Hospital: Health Educator 
  • Whatcom Council on Aging: Community Outreach Coordinator 
  • WithinReach: Family Engagement Specialist

Sample Careers

  • Community Health Educator 
  • Tobacco Control Specialist 
  • Sexuality Education Coordinator 
  • HIV/AIDS Educator 
  • Hospital-based Wellness Program Director 
  • Public Health Educator 
  • Substance Abuse Educator 
  • College Health Educator 
  • Injury Prevention Specialist 
  • Curriculum Development Specialist 
  • Health Consultant 
  • Health Information Specialist 
  • Nutrition and Physical Activity Coordinator

Department of Health and Human Development - Community Health

Community Health, BS

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