Current Company: HealthNow New York, Inc.
Industry Type: Health Insurance
Years in the Field: 6
Organization Size: 1500 employees
Jenna is currently a Health Promotion Specialist at HealthNow New York, Inc. Jenna is passionate about all aspects of health and wellness. She enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and leading by example for HealthNow members. In her spare time she likes to teach group fitness classes and volunteers in her community. Jenna is also in the process of earning her PhD in Sport and Exercise Science.
In 2007, I received my Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Springfield College. I then decided to continue my education abroad, and studied for a Master of Science in Sport and Exercise Science at Teesside University in the UK. There, I concentrated my efforts on biomechanics, exercise physiology and public health. I completed an independent learning module on obesity etiology, which led me to pursue the ACSM Health Fitness Specialist certification and a career in health promotion. This past February, I began pursuance of my PhD when I was accepted as a part-time, distance learner at Teesside University.
The majority of my current work with HealthNow New York, Inc. is with a large school health insurance trust, which is comprised of 23 individual school districts. I began working with the consortium during the 2013-2014 school year. Since then, I have been able to reach 18 of the 23 districts with 13 of them becoming highly engaged in health promotion programs. Specifically, I have been able to collaborate with superintendents and senior business officials at each of the highly active schools, achieving buy-in from the top down. I have conducted various surveys to assess the wellness climate of each individual district as well as the needs and interests of the faculty and staff at each district. I’ve worked with districts’ existing wellness committees to make them more cohesive, and have helped those districts without committees to form new ones on a strong foundation of basic wellness principles.
In conjunction with clinical claims data, I have used the information gained from the aforementioned surveys to guide the districts in creating and implementing comprehensive wellness programs. Specifically, across the consortium we have implemented health promotion programs comprised of weight loss/management challenges, health fairs, biometric screenings, health and wellness education seminars, physical activity/fitness classes and challenges, “know your numbers” campaigns, flu shot and immunization clinics and fresh produce delivery/farm-to-school programs.
One particular success in the 2013-2014 school year came from a weight loss initiative in which participants worked in teams to achieve a weight loss of 3% or more. Across the consortium, seven districts participated, and 276 members of faculty and staff lost a total of over 2200 pounds.
I have had practical, hands-on experience in academic, strength and conditioning, health promotion, wellness center, and rehabilitation settings. I truly enjoy working with others, and am enthusiastic when challenged or approached on any topic within the realm of Health Promotion. I am passionate not only about health and wellness, but also learning and teaching; I enjoy working with others and helping them realize the value of good health. I believe it is my passion and drive for the field that makes me a strong leader.
I’ve gained the respect of my peers as well as the groups that I work with.
Additionally, my passion for wellness has led me to support and lead a number of public health events I recently spoke at a Girls’, Inc, STEM event, teaching high school aged women about the advantages—and science behind—living a healthy lifestyle. I have also assisted various groups in organizing 5K races.
In a relatively short amount of time at HealthNow New York, Inc., I have developed best practices, refined select standard operating procedures, and enhanced a widely used employee interest tool.
Additionally, in the world of health promotion, we talk a lot about return on investment. We often think of this return in terms of dollars and cents rather than value and satisfaction. I think that this is where we sometimes sell ourselves short. I have achieved great success in engaging hard to reach clientele in health promotion programming. I believe this to be the result of building relationships and showing a genuine interest in the health and wellbeing of our clients. This interest, in the eyes of the client, is an investment, and I have no doubt that is has added value—and satisfaction—to the product we sell as health insurers.
I believe there is great opportunity for the health promotion industry to improve the quality of health information that is readily available to the general public. The industry is full of fads and non-evidence based practice, and that is perhaps one of the greatest threats we face. People no longer know what is real or who they can trust. As health promotion professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that the public has the information and skills they need to make sound decisions when it comes to their healthcare and wellness practices.
As someone who loves to learn and teach, I make it my personal mission to seek out the current evidence-based research that exists in our field, and share it with our clientele at HealthNow. Additionally, through my current studies, I hope to be able to contribute to the evidence-based practices that exist, or perhaps even discover new practices!