Health Promotion Careers

The health promotion sector is very varied, with a wide range of careers and roles. In Ireland, Health Promotion practitioners work in a variety of settings, including the HSE, non-governmental and community organisations, in research and academia. Health Promotion practitioners work on policy development, planning and delivery of health promotion programmes and training, building health promoting partnerships, and working to reduce health inequalities. Read more for more information on health promotion careers/training.

Meet Dr Gail Cummins who is a lecturer in Health Promotion at Letterkenny Institute of Technology. Gail is also an IUHPE Registered Health Promotion Practitioner. ProfilePic GC May19

What inspired you towards a career in health promotion?

Health and wellbeing have always been high on my agenda and I knew from an early age that I was destined to work in this area. During my teens, I lost someone very close to me due to cancer; when something like that happens, it reminds you how precious life is and how important it is to look after your health. After my Leaving Certificate, I completed a degree in Health Science and Physiology. Whilst I was fascinated to learn about the anatomy and physiology of the human body, I was really intrigued and wanted to gain a more in-depth understanding of health promotion. So, the obvious next step for me was to complete a degree in Public Health and Health Promotion. I’m a great advocate of lifelong learning and I’m also quite an ambitious person, so fast forward 12 years……. I have now completed an M.Sc. Ph.D. and Postdoc in Health Promotion.

Meabh McGuinness is an IUHPE Registered Health Promotion Practitioner working as an Education Project Manager in the HSE. In this profile piece, Meabh gives us some insight into her career and what drives her passion for health promotion.

What inspired you towards a career in health promotion? Meabh

I studied nutrition originally, and that left me thinking about the gap between knowledge and behaviour. So much was known about nutrition but still people found it hard to eat healthily. My first job was in BreastCheck, and I was learning a lot about the reasons people attend and don’t attend for screening, and that made me even more curious about health promotion, so I started a postgraduate diploma in Health Promotion from NUIG in 2002.

What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

I’m working on the HSE National Education Programme as a project manager. There is no typical day! My job involves co-ordinating and supporting our work in schools across the country. The Department of Education has just launched a new Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice, this means every school will have a plan for Wellbeing by 2023, this is great news as it means that wellbeing is seen as central to the Department of Education’s mission and goals. It means we will have to change some of our programmes and projects to support this and align with this new policy, so at the moment we are planning for this change.

Meet Shirley O’Shea, Senior Health Promotion Officer (Physical Activity), Health Promotion & Improvement HSE South!

shirley o shea pic AHPI

What inspired you towards a career in health promotion?

I took an unconventional route to Health Promotion. When I left school I studied to become a Nursery Nurse; in the UK Nursery Nurses are employed with 0-7 year old children and I spent the next 10 years in many different Early Years settings from a preschool where English was not the first language to a Montessori school. In between I spent 2 years as a Nanny in New York. I always had an interest in health and fitness, I was tempted to do sports science but liked the broad appeal of Health Promotion. I was one of the first graduates of the BA in Health Promotion at Liverpool John Moores University; the majority of us were mature students from a wide variety of backgrounds and our lecturers were highly respected in the field. We had some very forward thinking modules for the mid 1990’s one of them was called ‘Challenging the Power Structures’ and ‘Anthropology of Health & Illness’  

Meet Dr Ailsa Lyons who is Head of Department, Preventive Medicine and Health Promotion in St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin. Here Ailsa share’s her health promotion journey.

Ailsa Careers

What inspired you towards a career in health promotion?

It was whilst I was working as a nurse that I became interested in prevention, behaviour change, and health promotion. Many of the patients I would see each day may not have required hospitalisation or surgery had they received health promotion interventions and preventive health information and advice earlier. Studying Health Promotion and Psychology at graduate level was the obvious next step.

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