Since the start of the global pandemic, demand for community health workers—frontline health workers who provide assistance in accessing health care, government and social service resources—has been growing.
This fall, Northern Essex Community College’s community health worker training program was the first for-credit program in the state to receive approval from the Massachusetts Board of Certification of Community Health Workers as a training center. Berkshire Community College received approval for its noncredit training program.
“We’ve been developing our program for six years and this validates our efforts,” said Jacqueline Dick, who drafted the 164-page application and is coordinator of the college’s Public Health Program. “When our students are looking for jobs, employers will appreciate that they’ve completed an approved program.”
One graduate of Northern Essex’s Community Health Worker Certificate Program and Associate Degree in Public Health is Silvia Polanco of Methuen. She is a certified community health worker who is now working for Greater Lawrence Family Health Center as part of a team of nurses, social workers and case managers. In her job, she helps connect the Health Center and Lawrence General patients with community resources, such as transportation, food and clothing. She landed her job while still a student after she successfully completed an internship there.
Northern Essex is accepting applications now for the six-credit course, Community Health Outreach, a hybrid course combining classroom and online learning that will be taught on Thursday evenings on the Lawrence Campus, beginning Jan. 20.
The course covers the 10 core competencies set by the state. Students can take it as a stand-alone course or enroll in the college’s Community Health Worker Certificate, a nine-month program that transfers into the Associate Degree in Public Health.
To receive state certification, individuals must successfully complete the Core Competency training program in addition to 2,000 hours of work experience.
For more information about the community health worker course or certificate or the Associate Degree in Public Health, contact Dick at [email protected].