Prior to starting as a health educator at Respiratory Health Association, it wasn’t always easy for me to be on the phone or present in front of large groups of people. As an introvert, these situations always seemed monumental. “What if I mess up?” or “What if they hang up on me?” I worried to myself. However, as soon as I jumped into training at my host site, I quickly realized that I would need to face these situations head on, given that phone outreach and public speaking is essential to the asthma team’s success.
At Respiratory Health Association, asthma educators are expected to serve as a team in order to collectively teach over 2,000 children and 4,000 caregivers by the end of the service term. This requires each asthma educator to cold call 10 to 20 schools a day, oftentimes reaching out to staff members who might not be as aware about the programs. Despite this, I have been able to quickly brush off disappointment and persevere with scheduling programs at other schools. In fact, I have also begun to use other strategies and talking points to advocate for our programs if I am initially rejected.
Similarly, walking in to teach a room full of students about their asthma can be daunting. Not only are there a lot of students, but we, as asthma educators, are unfamiliar faces and must build rapport and simultaneously teach them an entire lesson over 3 or 4 days. While I had experience teaching sexual health education before serving as a health educator at Respiratory Health Association, I did not have consecutive classes to build off of my resilience and classroom management skills. At Respiratory Health Association, however, we schedule as many classes as possible each day, which exposes me to at least 40 students in one day. Good presentation skills, organization, and effective classroom management are necessary to successfully teach so many students. I can confidently say that I have honed all of these skills and more throughout my time as an asthma health educator.
I am excited to see what the rest of the service term has to teach me. I can’t wait to use all of the knowledge I have learned and apply it to my future career in healthcare.
This blog post was written by 2018-19 NHC member Sandra Folarin.
Sandra is a Health Educator at Respiratory Health Association.