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Saint Leo University Announces New Bachelor’s Degree Program

By Meaghan Goepferich Posted on July 25, 2020

Program to launch in fall 2020 for a fast-growing field

Saint Leo University Announces New Bachelor’s Degree Program: Health Education and Health Promotion

Saint Leo University (www.saintleo.edu) announced the start of a new four-year degree—a bachelor’s in health education and health promotion—that will prepare graduates for a growing number of health education positions at community organizations, healthcare agencies, and workplaces.

Health education specialists help the public understand how to cope with health challenges they face as individuals or as concerned family members. For instance, the specialists offer instruction in healthy habits and preventative measures that can be adopted, and provide information on health care services available to the public. Health education specialists play another important role in organizations by developing new education programs for various groups, and improving education programs that may already exist.

Graduates from Saint Leo, in particular, will be educated to promote a “culture of health” wherever they work through effective teaching, through the examples they set as individuals who prioritize their own well-being, and through the cooperative working relationships they maintain with clinicians and other health professionals.

“Health education specialists are bridging an important gap between what individuals, families, and communities know and understand, and the increasing amount of knowledge available,” said Kathleen Van Eerden, PhD, RN, associate dean of Saint Leo’s College of Health Professions. The number of job openings for health educators is expected to grow nationally by 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Saint Leo is excited to add this program as it fits so well with our university’s Catholic Benedictine tradition, which emphasizes the balanced growth of body, mind, and spirit,” said Van Eerden. “We continue to stress that lesson today. Adding this degree program is another way we can support that philosophy and provide interested students with a direct pathway into a meaningful career.”    

Saint Leo is launching the Bachelor of Science program in the fall 2020 Semester at the residential campus. Faculty anticipate that students most attracted to the program will be those with a keen desire to learn about health and to engage with others, and those who enjoy working with groups of people.  

The Saint Leo program will prepare them with a contemporary curriculum that draws from courses in anatomy, professional speaking, statistics, psychology, ethics, and nutrition, and layers upon those subjects courses in education and health promotion. Education courses, such as teaching diverse populations, brain-based learning, and assessing health learning, will ensure that students not only understand health material, but are able to make it understandable to future clients.

Saint Leo students themselves will learn through experiences and projects, as well as from readings and lectures conducted in small, personalized classes. During a “capstone” learning experience in their final year, students will work with a professional contact at a community agency on a project meant to help improve the health of a designated group. Afterward, they will evaluate the project’s success. The strong Saint Leo liberal arts foundation courses will help the students attain the deep reading, writing, and analytical skills they will need to progress through this challenging course of study.

There will still be room in students’ academic schedules for some elective courses, as well.

“This innovative curriculum really shows the benefit of a four-year university program for those interested in the field,” Van Eerden said. “This is where a student can become well-rounded for the needs of the profession, as well as for personal growth.”

Students will be able to transfer into the Saint Leo program from other schools, but may need to take the program’s foundational courses—including anatomy, ethics, speaking, psychology— before being able to progress into the upper-level courses.

At the end of this cohesive program of study, students can choose to take a national competency exam for the Certified Health Education Specialist credential. Some employers require the credential. In general, it is considered an asset for those in the field.

The Bachelor of Science in health education and health promotion is the first degree offering announced by the Saint Leo College of Health Professions, the university’s newest academic unit. The College of Health Professionals joins the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and Social Services, and the Tapia College of Business.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering nearly 60 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs to more than 19,500 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 15 education centers in five states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 95,000 alumni. Learn more at saintleo.edu.

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