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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Prevention drives today's health educators

By Aprille Janes
Special to The Toronto Sun

Health professionals looking for new challenges don't have to go far to find them these days. "Prevention" is the word, and it's creating an appetite for information.

Education on health subjects is in high demand, driven by consumers seeking an active role in their health decisions. This means many health professionals are adding the role of 'instructor' to their job description.

There are, of course, the traditional teaching roles. A quick search of the Internet reveals a large number of postings for instructors. Training others in your area of expertise is a valuable service both to your profession and the public.

Ontario colleges and universities offer a wide variety of certificate and degree programs, all of which need qualified people to teach them. With the double cohort arriving in September, the demand is acute in some areas.

But as Boomers age and the general population becomes more health conscious, lifestyle knowledge attracts their interest. Food and nutrition, physical activity, stress management and smoking cessation are just some of the areas in high demand. If you're a trained dietitian, physical therapist or any number of other health professions, look around at the non-traditional settings. You'll find some interesting alternatives.

A good example of finding a niche and filling it is Wellness at Work, a Toronto-based company founded 12 years ago by kinesiologist Susan Robertson and HR professional Liz Kvolek. They saw a need for more health information in the office and factory and moved to fill that requirement.

Describing themselves as an "employee wellness consulting firm," Robertson and Kvolek work out unique content for each client, choosing the focus and delivery in conjunction with the company and the employees.

"We found an increased demand for workplace knowledge," Kvolek says. "By bringing the wellness message into the workplace during business hours, we create an environment of awareness."

They arrange assessments, seminars, health fairs, special events, active living programs and communications tailored to a company's needs.

"Our intent is to parcel information in a way that integrates consumer awareness with a skill set."

If you'd like to find out more about Wellness at Work, visit their Web site,

Many health professionals are forming their own small businesses or partnering with companies such as Wellness at Work. They offer workshops, courses, one-on-one coaching sessions and other means of reaching the public with their message.

If you've never taught in a formal setting, there are even classes available to help you develop your instructional techniques. Look for adult-based learning courses on your local college's Web site or in its course catalog.

The opportunities to educate and inform are exciting as the public and practitioner become partners. Everyone benefits. It's always more satisfying to help prevent health problems in the first place, not to mention more cost-effective for everyone.

(Aprille Janes ( is a freelance writer based in Port Perry, Ont.)

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