Celebrating Wins as a Health Educator
First Year Insight and Wins
Health Educator Jill Roehl is halfway through her first year on staff with the Foundation. She works with participants in South Central Wisconsin in the state-wide First Breath program. Jill’s initial interest in working in this Health Educator role was because of its positive impact on families and children. She shared that by helping pregnant individuals, she knows she’s helping children to get a good start in life. Recently Jill shared her excitement about Erin, one of her first and most recent graduates in the First Breath program.
“Working with Erin throughout the program in her journey to quit smoking and remain quit six months postpartum was a bit emotional for me. As Health Educators, we develop relationships with our participants while in the program. Seeing a success story such as Erin’s is so rewarding! I am so privileged to be a part of First Breath and the great work being done to help new moms and their families get the best start possible.”
Erin and Jill met regularly through video conferencing, phone calls and texts. Through this program, Erin has been empowered and supported to become smoke-free. She reported that her chronic asthma is much better and has noticed that she gets sick less often. And when she does get sick, it’s less serious and she recovers faster. In addition, Erin said that she’s thankful that she has more energy to care for her children. This was especially important when her son was recently hospitalized with RSV. Seeing the positive changes for Erin and knowing the long-term benefits to her whole family is extremely rewarding for Jill.
“When we finished our last meeting, I got emotional. I felt so proud of her and the great work she’s done.” Jill shared how her participants change their thought processes through education.
“Education helps change their thinking because when they know what is happening [the potential harm and long-term impact], they make a connection and are more likely to meet their goals. I also see all my participants driven by their motivation for their babies to be healthy.”
Health educators practice empowerment in various ways, including motivational interviewing (MI). For those unfamiliar with MI, it is an evidence-based approach to behavior change. While definitions vary, a clear explanation is, “MI is a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.” (Miller & Rollnick, 2013, p. 29)
Individuals using First Breath services
People come to First Breath at different stages in their pregnancy and post-partum. Sometimes, the program receives a referral to assist an individual’s partner. (The FB program uses the term “caregiver” because this person can be a partner, parent, grandparent, etc., or any other additional caregiver in the home).
In a caregiver referral, First Breath does up to two phone-based education sessions to discuss strategies, coping skills, benefits of a smoke-free house and how to support their pregnant partner. Then the caregiver is referred to the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line for nicotine replacement therapy and counseling.
Interested in supporting the important work of the First Breath program or the Foundation’s other state-wide programs and initiatives? Take your next step here to donate or contact Development Manager Nicole Donny at firstname.lastname@example.org.