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Adapting During the Ever-Changing Pandemic Environment: A One-Year Examination of How Health Education Specialists Remain Adaptable

Lisa Yazel, Charity Bishop & Hannah Britt

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Numerous studies have examined the effects of the pandemic on healthcare workers and public health professionals since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.1,2 However, there has been little published specifically on the field of health education and those professionals who are health education specialists (HES) or Certified and Master Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES®/MCHES®). Therefore, data on how the roles and responsibilities of health education specialists have been affected by COVID-19 remain limited.

Two publications focused on the early days of the pandemic. First, in May 2020, Hancher-Rauch et. al. conducted a national study that examined the immediate effects of COVID-19 on HES’ work and personal experiences by focusing on their work settings and pre-pandemic work priorities. The study examined whether or not HES (n = 913) had to shift from their normal work responsibilities due to the pandemic. The study found that 43% of HES had to change work priorities, with 80% of those stating the priorities shifted to focus specifically on COVID-19. Of those, 84% of respondents reported feeling somewhat or very qualified to focus on the newly emerging needs of COVID-19. Also, 85.3% of respondents continued to work in their previous roles in addition to taking on new COVID-19–associated responsibilities. The majority of HES were accepting of the new COVID-19 roles (88%). It was also reported that of the HES expected to work from home, 75.2% felt they could provide quality services working remotely.

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