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Health Education and Health Promotion
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  • Community Health Education

    Welcome to the Community Health Education Major

    Funding for the video was provided in part by Scenic Rivers Area Health Education Center in association with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.


    Healthier people participating, learning, and living in healthier communities.


    To prepare leaders in school and community health through the bridging of competency and standard-based education, scholarship, advocacy, and service-related endeavors, thereby contributing to healthier people and healthier communities.

    To pursue this mission, we (department faculty, staff, students, and others) collaborate to:

    • Advocate for the advancement of the profession.
    • Provide the highest quality of professional preparation.
    • Prepare students, professionals, and academic programs for credentialing processes.
    • Provide innovative professional development opportunities.
    • Offer authentic life-enhancing service-learning opportunities.
    • Strengthen health-related community capacity through collaboration and service within our world.
    • Aim to cultivate motivated, self-directed, continuous life-long learners.   
    BS-CHE Goals


    1. To prepare Community Health Educators through the necessary coursework in entry-level public health core areas and health education competencies.
    2. To prepare Community Health Educators who will work with a variety of population demographics, settings, and cultural perspectives within the primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention domains of health education and health promotion.
    3. To engage Community Health Education majors in Preceptorship experiences which enables candidates to become more competent within the seven entry-level Areas of Responsibility.



    BS-CHE Objectives: 

    By the end the BS-CHE program, at the entry level, candidates will have experience in all core competence for public health professionals


    The CHE program is the only one of its kind in the University of Wisconsin System. The Seven Areas of Responsibility for a Community Health Educator are emphasized in the courses.  

    Seven Areas of Responsibility:  

    1. Assess
    2. Plan
    3. Implement
    4. Evaluate
    5. Administer
    6. Serve
    7. Advocate

    The community Health Education Program prepares students for careers in: 

    • Private Health Agencies
    • Hospitals
    • Health Clinics
    • Non-governmental Health Agencies
    • Business and Industry

    Courses emphasize administrative issues, health promotion skill-building, program planning, implementation and evaluation, and marketing strategies. Students learn how to prepare written materials as well as electronic media presentations for mass audiences. Upon graduation, students can take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination. Course work included in the program includes epidemiology, biometrics, environmental health, grant seeking, mental & emotional health, sexual health promotion, nutrition education, and theories of health behavior. 


    For information about the Community Health Education (CHE) program, please contact:

    Keely S. Rees, Ph.D., MCHES
    Program Director, Undergraduate Community Health Education Program
    Associate Professor
    217 Mitchell Hall

    "Community health is almost anything that involves making people’s lives better." -CHE student

    "One of the best things I feel this program offers is the opportunity to learn about such a broad base of health issues and to work with literally every demographic of people out there." -CHE student

    What is Community Health Education (CHE)

    che group

    Health education is a social science which draws from the biological, environmental, psychological, physical and medical sciences to promote health and prevent disease, disability and premature death by educating individuals and communities to voluntarily change their behaviors to improve their health and well-being. Health education is the development of individual, group, institutional, community and systemic strategies to improve health knowledge, attitudes, skills and behavior. The purpose of health education is to positively influence the health behavior of individuals and communities as well as the living and working conditions that influence their health.

    Health education improves the health status of individuals, families, communities, states, and the nation. Health education enhances the quality of life for all people and reduces premature deaths. By focusing on prevention, health education reduces the costs (both financial and human) individuals, employers, families, insurance companies, medical facilities, communities, the state and the nation would spend on medical treatment. For more information about community health, go to

    Where are Health Educators Employed?

    Health educators work in schools, hospitals or clinics, with community organizations, non-profit agencies, with companies or with governmental agencies. Health educators work to promote better overall health on individual, community and policy levels. This is done by writing grants, researching, identifying resources, assessing individual and community needs, and planning, implementing, and managing education programs.

    Preceptorship in Community Health Education 


    During their last undergraduate semester, majors in Community Health Education participate in a full-time 15-credit service-learning course named the Undergraduate Community Health Education Preceptorship. Faculty created this experience as a capstone for undergraduate coursework, and participants find this to be a cornerstone for their career. 

    The objectives of the preceptorship are three fold: 


    1. To apply realistically the knowledge and skills attained in the campus setting to specific practical community health education issues in the agency setting 
    2. Resulting in practical service to the agency 
    3. Better student preparation for future employment and/or advanced education
    About a year before the conclusion of course work, program participants work with a faculty member to align with a preceptorship site reflecting their interests in specific settings, health concerns, populations, and sometimes locations. The faculty adviser arranges a visit between the student preceptee and the agency preceptor who will mentor the student during the preceptorship. Alignments are finalized when the faculty member, student preceptee, and agency preceptor agree on the features of a student-generated proposal. 


    Community Health Education majors are encouraged to learn more about the Preceptorship by going to the Preceptorship Digital Library. If you have trouble accessing the Preceptorship Digital Library site, please contact the Preceptorship Coordinator at




    Where do I go to declare CHE as my major?

    Guy Herling
    Assistant to the Dean
    205 Graff Main Hall

    Where can I find more information about a career in Community Health Education?

    1. Keely Rees, Ph.D., CHES
    Associate Professor
    Director, Undergraduate Community Health Education
    Dept. of Health Education and Health Promotion
    217 Mitchell Hall
    La Crosse, WI 54601

    2. CHE Faculty

    • Dr. Anders Cedergren
    • Dr. Dan Duquette
    • Dr. Gary Gilmore
    • Dr. Robert Jecklin
    • Dr. Michele Pettit
    • Dr. Keely Rees
    • Dr. Karen Skemp
    • Katie Wagoner, MPH
    • Dr. Emily Whitney

    3. National professional websites:


    How do I get an academic advisor?

    Once you declare Community Health Education as your major in Guy Herling’s office, you are then assigned to a CHE Faculty member for your academic advising.

    What if I do not have a specific passion or target population I want to work with?

    That is perfectly fine. Your coursework, volunteer or service learning projects often stimulate ideas or areas of interest that lead to a passion.

    Do Community Health Educators actually educate or just arrange for others qualified in specific areas to educate populations?

    Both. We are often finding the resources, experts, or facilitators for a specific health issue or topic OR we often need to act as the resource and become prepared to facilitate or teach in that specified area.

    Where can Community Health Educators work other than health departments?

    • Corporations (Worksite Wellness, Employee Health)
    • Health Care/Hospital Settings
    • Non-Profit Organizations
    • School Districts
    • County or State Health Agencies

    What minors go well with Community Health?

    What are the benefits of a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) certification?

    1. Encourages networking with other Health Education Professionals
    2. Improves professional practice through continuing education
    3. Provides a quantifiable measure of quality assurance
    4. Recognized and desired by employers
    5. The CHES is valued, validated, and accredited

    For more information check out the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing


    Information current students want other students to know:

    • The other people in Community Health are a lot like me and just because we talk about optimal health practices does not mean we can not hangout socially in a more relaxed atmosphere.
    • There are graduate students in our classes. This is a great time to hear about projects they are working on, hear about what it is like to be a health educator in our community and see what lies ahead if we choose to get a master’s degree.
    • The professors in our major are very knowledgeable and recognized within community health with diverse work backgrounds.