Being a Professional Home Economist (P.H.Ec.) has had a positive impact on my life, personally and professionally. My memberships in local, provincial, and international home economics associations gave me opportunities to meet new friends, research colleagues, and Home Economists from a variety of disciplines. These individuals are passionate about the ability of our profession to improve the lives of individuals and families, locally and globally. I also take whatever chance I get to explain what P.H.Ec. means, particularly to people who are unaware that Home Economists still exist!
At a professional level, I teach the last post-secondary course in Ontario on the history, philosophy, and discipline of Home Economics … which means that some Brescia graduates can obtain TWO professional designations: Registered Dietitian (RD) and P.H.Ec. Indeed, many RD are also Professional Home Economists.
While I invite P.H.Ec.s as guest speakers for my classes, I also include lots of pictures of P.H.Ec.s in my lecture slides to show students the exciting and fulfilling careers that are possible in this field. Students often thank me for giving them renewed hope about alternate careers in food and nutrition beyond (or in addition to) working as an RD.
I see great potential and growth for the profession over the next five to 10 years. We need reach out to graduates from programs beyond Food and Nutrition or Family Studies. This will require thoughtful deliberation on the criteria for membership, as there are no longer any post-secondary programs in Home Economics per se.
Rather than seeing this as an impediment to growth, we can build on the strong, multidisciplinary foundations of our profession to engage new graduates in areas such as early childhood education, child and youth care, hospitality and culinary arts, fashion, and family finance/resource management, to name a few. We also need to consider how these students will learn about the depth and breadth of our profession and our fascinating history.
The increasing popularity of reality TV shows on various aspects of home and family management; the rising personal, health, and financial costs of diet-related chronic diseases; and the self-reported lack of food, financial, and family literacy – by people of all ages, backgrounds, and social status – are clear indications of consumers’ interest in, and increased demand for, home economics education in our schools. This is where we have made a significant impact in the past and can do so well into the future ... but we must advocate to create this new reality.
I encourage P.H.Ec. colleagues to take leadership roles in our association. Let’s move into our next 40 years with vision, courage, and the conviction that our profession is, in the words of Dr. Ellen Swallow Richards (1882), “the worthiest of all the applied sciences which teaches the principles on which to found [a] healthy and happy life”.
About Dr. June Matthews, RD, P.H.Ec.
After several years of working and travelling, I returned to school as a full-time student. Over a period of 11 years, and while my husband and I were raising a young family, I updated high school credits at the G. A. Wheable Centre for Adult Education, completed a Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Human Ecology from Brescia University College, and achieved an MSc and a PhD in Applied Human Nutrition from the University of Guelph.
Immediately following my undergraduate degree in 2000, I joined OHEA to network with other professionals and gain additional credentials. I learned about OHEA in Dr. Elizabeth Bright-See’s Professional Perspectives course at Brescia University College, one of the courses I currently teach.
Dr. Bright-See explained the value of the Professional Home Economist (P.H.Ec.) designation and the importance of belonging to professional associations. She also taught us about the many contributions made by prominent Home Economists throughout history. In 2003, I became a Registered Dietitian (RD). I have been a P.H.Ec. longer than I have been an RD! I served OHEA as President-Elect for one year and am currently the President.
Wanting to learn more information about OHEA's history? Join us on March 23 for our annual conference which will be held in London, Ontario at Brescia University College. Visit oheaconference.ca or ohea.on.ca for more information about the agenda, speakers and to register. We look forward to seeing you there!