community health worker training session

Innovative NSCC Community Health Worker Training Lauded

A celebration of a new education delivery model for community health workers was celebrated recently at North Shore Community College when the college’s division of corporate and professional education held an information training session to share what they learned from this spring’s successful pilot program.

The Community Health Worker training program was developed to align with the MA Department of Public Health’s recommended core competencies for CHW’s. Students undertake a comprehensive study of the various components and functions of community health work, practicing skills totaling 80 hours of instruction.  The program is delivered by an experienced trainer who has worked in a CHW or public health outreach capacity.

The educational instruction prepares Community Health Workers to serve as frontline outreach advocates and liaison service providers, linking individuals and community to facilitate access to health and human services and improve the value and quality of cultural competence in human service care delivery. Community Health Workers work in clinic and community based settings providing individual, familial and community outreach, health education, informal counseling, social support, direct care coordination, advocacy and case management for service and referrals that establish and promote individual and community self-sufficiency and health capacity.

Program student learner outcomes include: identify most essential/fundamental health conditions facing CHW's or related work in communities; define the role of a Community Health Worker as it relates to education, advocacy and healthcare coordination for individuals, families, and communities regarding specific health topics for vulnerable populations; demonstrate proficiency in the core competencies related to Community Health Workers; provide informal counseling and social support designed to initiate and uphold trusting relationships and to develop capacity building strategies to enhance the interests of individuals, families, and the community; use key public health concepts and approaches in systematic solving of health care and public health problems; create connections and navigating barriers between vulnerable populations and accessing the healthcare system; demonstrate proficiency in the ability to work with diverse, multidisciplinary wrap-around care teams including compliance with reporting, record keeping, and documentation: and to improve quality of healthcare for individuals and families struggling with chronic medical, mental health and substance abuse issues.

Occupational skills required to be successful include: active listening; empathy; intercultural competency; actively seeking to help people; social perceptiveness; oral communication; documentation; ethical decision making; complex problem solving and judgement and decision making.

“The pilot, which was funded through a $35,000 grant from the state Department of Higher Education, was really, really successful. There were tears of joy in the room at the graduation ceremony.” said Dr. Dianne Palter Gill, NSCC Dean of Corporate and Professional Education. “We worked with companies in the community to assess their needs and developed the curriculum around those needs, including when the training should be offered, for how long, and what it should include. We came up with a 80-hour training which includes the 10 competencies needed for certification.”

David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner of Workforce and Economic Development for the MA Department of Higher Education, noted, “This type of training, which provides a pathway from noncredit training and certification into credit education and an associate’s degree for mostly adult learners is the kind of systemic model we need in the state right now to serve this high demand career. “

A student who completed the training, Keishmary Rodriguez, expressed her gratitude for the flexible training program. She was working as a receptionist at the Lynn Community Health Center when she learned of the opportunity. “I work full-time and I am a single mom so I really didn’t think I would be able to do it. I also hadn’t been a great student, hadn’t really engaged and had fallen asleep in previous classes. But this curriculum completely engaged me and made me want to keep asking questions. I got tired, but I was determined to finish.

“The cultural competency training would be good for everyone. Not everyone can read or write or has the ability to have their voice heard. They need advocates. I am eager to apply what I learned to help people,” Keishmary said. As a result of her training she was offered three jobs, two of which she took as she dreams of opening her own shelter one day.

 “These students and their transformational stories are the reason I get out of bed every day,” Palter Gill said. “It is so good to see the faces behind the programming and be able to realize the difference we are able to make in people’s lives.”

For information on how to apply for the next CHW training call 978-236-1200.

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