The new BA in Wellness and Health Promotion Practice prepares students to work in emerging wellness and healthcare roles such as health educators and health coaches for diverse communities and organizations.
In response to the growing demand for workers in the health and wellness sector, the Zuckerman College of Public Health has created a new degree, the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Wellness and Health Promotion Practice, that was recently approved by the Arizona Board of Regents. The new BA degree will be offered both in-person and online, and the college is now accepting applications from undergraduate students for the fall 2021 semester.
With an emphasis on health promotion practice, students in the BA program have the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills they learn in the classroom and apply them in a real-world setting. This applied education approach prepares graduates to work in the field as soon as they have earned their degree. The BA in Wellness trains students for roles such as health educator, health coach, and community health director.
Three Degree Tracks
Within the BA degree, there are three elective “tracks” so that students can specialize in an area of interest: 1) Health and Wellness 2) Health Education, and 3) Aging and Population Health. Each track gives a different emphasis to the curriculum and prepares graduates for different career paths.
In particular, the Health Education track prepares students to become a Certified Health Education Specialist. By completing the BA and selecting the Health Education elective track, students can meet the 25 units of public health and health education courses needed to be eligible for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam offered through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, https://www.nchec.org/ches.
“The BA is a great degree for students who want to help others develop healthy lifestyles and experience overall wellness. Students cultivate knowledge and skills, then apply these in the field to be work-ready upon graduation," said Velia Leybas Nuño, PhD, MSW, assistant professor and the program director for the BA, "students who earn this degree can work in healthcare, health departments, and elder care. They can become a community health worker, health educators, or a health coach. This field is predicted to grow significantly over the next 10 years making the need for trained public health professionals essential."
A Video Introduction to the BA Degree from Dr. Velia Leybas Nuno
Graduates Prepared for Careers
Students learn to conduct health needs and resource assessments, and to plan health promotion services and interventions using the latest research-based evidence to promote behavior change and healthier lifestyles. They learn to implement and manage services and interventions, and to evaluate health promotion and wellness services and programming. Importantly, students develop skills to care for their own personal health and wellness, so they become practitioners themselves before they go on to teach, train, and coach others in health promotion and wellness.
A recent New York Times story describes the significant benefits provided by health coaches, and how a health coach can guide individuals to modify behaviors and navigate the healthcare system in order to avoid crisis care. An independent evaluation shows a growth rate of 33% over the next decade for these types of healthcare jobs, demonstrating the need for trained professionals, with average salaries at $47,000 a year in Arizona and $53,000 a year nationally.
A Foundation for Advanced Degrees
The BA also prepares students for the next level on their educational journey. The foundational public health education, alongside the applied practice knowledge and real-world experience, provides excellent preparation for many graduate degrees including public health, nursing, nutrition, and medicine.
Developed collaboratively by public health faculty and community partners, this is the only degree of its kind in Arizona and the Southwest. The degree offers a new trajectory in public health for undergraduate students who want to work in the rapidly expanding field of corporate and community health and wellness.
A New Facet of the Zuckerman Wellness Legacy
The BA in Wellness degree was inspired and supported by Mel Zuckerman, whose founding gift supported the establishment of the college in the year 2000. Mel’s own journey to wellness prompted him to launch the Canyon Ranch Health and Wellness resort here in Tucson. Mel and his wife Enid have been champions for health and wellness ever since, and this BA degree is part of his legacy.
"We are very excited about this new degree offering, the BA in Wellness and Health Promotion Practice,” says Dr. Iman Hakim, dean of the Zuckerman College of Public Health, “it represents a new chapter in Mel Zuckerman’s public health legacy. This BA degree will train the next generation of corporate and community health workers to promote health and wellness among diverse communities."