As a NJSOPHE member you can enjoy many benefits including:
- State of the art programs and innovative workshops
- Continuing education contact hours
- An active list-serve where members exchange ideas/practices
- Current job listings and career opportunities
- Seasonal newsletters
- Legislative alerts
- Secure access to an electronic membership directory
How has NJSOPHE helped me?
I attribute many things to my graduate school professor, Dr. Karen Denard Goldman. One of the most important things she did for me was to recommend that I join a professional organization to “network.” I did not initially see the value in that, and to be honest, was a bit intimidated to join. There I was, in 2002, studying to take the CHES exam, sending out job application after job application with no prospect for employment in sight- what could I bring to the table at a professional meeting anyway? Who had time, or the money?
It was after I attended a national SOPHE meeting that I learned that there was much to be gained from networking and being a part of a professional organization. Networking allows you to find a mentor and professional colleagues with similar backgrounds and interests. Networking allows you to ask questions, and learn about new things to get involved in. Networking allows you to find your professional home, and professional voice.
After such a warm response from my NJ SOPHE colleagues whom I met at the national conference, I joined the NJ SOPHE chapter as well as national SOPHE. Belonging to the chapter where you live has many benefits- you get to get involved in the local issues, network if you are looking for a new job or considering changing your career path, and meet the professionals at the front lines of public health, at the state and local level.
I found my first job in New Jersey through NJSOPHE’s Job Bank, as the Health Educator/ Risk Communicator for the Somerset County Department of Health, right on the heels of CDC bioterrorism funding and the anthrax attacks. I was a part of a group of 22 health educators, who were also members of, or affiliated with NJSOPHE. Being among other health educators with whom I could collaborate, share professional updates and learn some “tools of the trade” was invaluable.
One of the great experiences of NJSOPHE and National SOPHE is the opportunity it provides for a student or new professional to present to a professional audience, whether as a presenter or an author of an article or poster presentation. Over time, these opportunities gave me confidence in public speaking, the expertise to submit and edit presentation applications to other organizations, the humbling experience of receiving critiques from my peers, and keep up with my continuing education professional credits that I need to maintain my CHES, then my MCHES certification. Being a member of a recognized professional organization connects you with other health educators who recognize your commitment to professional development.
As a member of NJSOPHE I have served as Recording Secretary (I believe my skills to take meeting notes has greatly improved over the years), the Strategic Planning Committee, Program Committee and as Membership Chair. While it is not easy at times, the benefits, connection and experience you receive are great assets in the professional world in terms of accountability, productivity, time management and organization, interpersonal skills and interaction, budget management, mentoring and personal growth through lifelong friendships you make along the way.
It warms my heart when I see other health educators I recognize at a state or national conference. What brings us together is a belonging to a group that represents the highest and best standard of our profession. In that affiliation and membership, we have a place in NJSOPHE to return to as a touchstone, a focal point and a beacon to guide us to the next journey in public health education, as we face all the challenges and triumphs together.
2017 NJSOPHE President