Continuing Education: Kindling the Flame for Lifelong Learners

Happy new year! Do you have resolutions on your mind? Consider making 2017 a year of professional and personal education and growth through dedicated learning.

Walk the halls of Hager Sharp and you’ll find employees with myriad backgrounds and various combinations of letters after our names. While many Hager Sharpers are no longer students in the formal education system, we constantly circulate, attend, and share learnings from professional development opportunities with our colleagues. Having recently worked toward and achieved the Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) professional credential, I’ve had time to reflect on why credentialing—and the continuing education that comes with it—is such an important pursuit in our work. Here are four benefits of lifelong learning:

  1. Ensures technical competencies in our fields so we can do the best work for our clients.

My newly acquired MCHES helped me refresh my technical knowledge and application of strategic planning and implementation; evaluation and research; program management, leadership, and advocacy; and more. Studying for the exam had benefits, too. It gave me the opportunity to apply the test’s core competencies to my work with clients in the public health space.

  1. Meeting continuing education requirements can be fun and fulfilling.

My credential requires that I meet continuing education guidelines, which can be filled by attending and presenting at professional conferences and workshops; taking academic courses; authoring book chapters and peer-reviewed articles; developing health education products, curricula, and evaluation instruments; and participating in self-directed study. These requirements not only ensure that those who are certified meet consistent standards but also drive us to continue learning and growing on the job. And these activities allow many of us to step outside of our normal work responsibilities and comfort zones!

  1. Helps us keep up with dynamic industry needs and practices.

The world of social marketing and behavior change communications is always shifting to accommodate the latest and greatest tools, techniques, and best practices. We want to be at the forefront of it all, including the impact of technology on social marketing and communications, evaluations that truly reflect clients’ return on investment, digital strategy, and branding best practices.

  1. Allows us to collaborate with and learn from colleagues.

At Hager Sharp, whether we’re gathering for a webinar on communicating challenging topics like HPV vaccine, Zika, and breastfeeding; collaborating on book chapters; holding internal brainstorms about applying technology to meet changing client and audience needs; or participating in an interactive case presentation and workshop on making the most out of nationally representative online samples, we are continually filling our toolbox with the technical knowledge and skills we need to do the best by our clients.

I, for one, am thrilled to be part of a team and an industry that nourishes the lifelong learners in all of us, especially for the benefit of the work we do to improve the lives of people everywhere. May 2017 be filled with continued learning and growth for all!

Roshni Devchand, MPH, MCHES
Associate Director, Strategic Planning & Research