Health Educator

Posted on: April 22, 2021Chicago

At the start of my service term, I was hoping to learn more about the ways that education, public health, and medicine related. As I near the end of my service term, I can say that my time in NHC Chicago and my time at Heartland Health Centers (HHC) have definitely furthered my understanding of education and health.

For example, in addition to nutrition education and assisting with virtual wellness groups, in February, I assisted with HHC’s COVID-19 vaccine scheduling hotline. I answered incoming calls to schedule eligible patients for their vaccine, providing basic information as needed. Some patients I spoke with asked to talk with their doctor about the vaccine before scheduling an appointment. In these cases, I would notify the patient’s care team about this via electronic medical records, and let the patient know that staff would be reaching out soon to schedule a call for them and their doctor to discuss the vaccine. I thought about how there had to have been trust built up in those patient-provider relationships. It illustrated that, beyond large-scale public health messaging, an individual physician’s ability to be accessible and explain studies or science in an accurate, understandable manner is a necessary part of equipping people with the information to feel prepared and comfortable to make decisions about their own health. In these cases, if a person wished to discuss the new COVID-19 vaccines more in-depth with the provider they knew and trusted, Heartland made it happen, giving me a new perspective on how both trust and provider availability are required for education and outreach.

Further, in assisting with virtual Heartland wellness classes, I observe the group facilitators talk to clients about topics like stress in the body, and explain how yoga and breathing techniques may provide benefits and help de-stress. This gave me insight into how counselors and other healthcare providers can offer information about mental and emotional health, and clarify the connection between those and physical health for clients. And on top of that, through the weekly class, they provide a space and tools to continue to learn and to apply what is learned about those topics in a supportive setting. There are a variety of other HHC virtual wellness groups, too, that also provide education on different health topics, and have adapted this year to be socially distanced at outdoor locations, or online through Zoom!

All of these experiences expanded my ideas of education in healthcare. It was not only being able to explain health-related concepts in a clear way; professionals at Heartland also continually find ways to make themselves, health education, and resources as accessible as possible.

In AmeriCorps, my position title is “Health Educator.” Through NHC, I have realized Doctors, PAs, nurses, medical assistants, social media team members, counselors and therapists, and more can provide health education in addition to their clinical and/or administrative duties. Through the opportunity to be involved in various projects at HHC, I feel as though I have a more grounded and nuanced view as to how education and medicine relate to each other, and how health centers and healthcare professionals can include education in the healthcare provided.  

Host Site

HHC-Albany Park
3737 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Devon
1300 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, IL 60660

HHC-Lakeview
3048 N. Wilton Ave., Chicago, IL 60657

HHC-Lincoln Square
2645 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Wilson
845 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60640

HHC-Hibbard Elementary School
4930 N. Sawyer Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Senn High School
5900 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, IL 60660

HHC-Kilmer Elementary School
6700 North Greenview Ave, Chicago, IL 60626

HHC-Sullivan High School
6631 N Bosworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60626

HHC-Roosevelt High School
3436 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Albany Park
3737 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Devon
1300 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, IL 60660

HHC-Lakeview
3048 N. Wilton Ave., Chicago, IL 60657

HHC-Lincoln Square
2645 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Wilson
845 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60640

HHC-Hibbard Elementary School
4930 N. Sawyer Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Senn High School
5900 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, IL 60660

HHC-Kilmer Elementary School
6700 North Greenview Ave, Chicago, IL 60626

HHC-Sullivan High School
6631 N Bosworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60626

HHC-Roosevelt High School
3436 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60625