Health Promotion

Working in health promotion

WHO: Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health.

Public health experts contribute to all aspects of health promotion programs, from identifying the need for the program, intervention design, implementation, and evaluating the program’s success. These activities are common to all health promotion activities, from national campaigns such as cervical cancer screening, through to local council initiatives to encourage physical activity.

Increasing health literacy is often an integral part of health promotion, and many entry-level roles require interaction with the public. Logistical planning and good organisational skills are needed to ensure programs run smoothly, and that records and results are well maintained.

Program evaluation is a research skill that has strong applications in health promotion and other career fields. It requires strong statistical and analytical skills.

Finding the right positions

On a major initiative supported by a large team, a new Bachelor graduate can expect to take on practical responsibilities, often associated with program implementation. The smaller the team, the more exposure you’ll gain across the campaign including design, preparation and evaluation.

New Bachelor degree graduates are often successful applying for positions with ‘Assistant’ or ‘Coordinator’ in the title. Look for job descriptions involving practical tasks, such as conducting interviews, delivering sessions in the field, data entry and making phone calls. As you gain experience on the frontline, you’ll become eligible for roles in program design and review.

Senior project or program management jobs are more likely to be desk-based and involve more computer work, as well as stakeholder management. This includes tasks like writing progress reports for funding bodies, ensuring regulatory compliance, managing budgets, planning program improvements or developing new programs. Excellent negotiating skills are key, especially when multiple organisations are working together.

Some contract roles call for people with strength in defined skillsets, to complete a specific task. Program evaluation is a common example.

You should be looking at a wide range of employer types for health promotion positions. Advocacy groups like Cancer Council Victoria, local councils, refugee and migrant assistance providers and health services all advertise health promotion roles.

Ideal attributes

  • Good communicator – field work demands you are able to communicate clearly with people from all walks of life
  • Outgoing – a friendly disposition is part of being a great communicator
  • Organised – for keeping track of results and study plans
  • Analytical – problem-solving is useful, particularly during field work when you may not have supervisors on-hand. It also stands you in good stead for program evaluation