After six-weeks of intensive classroom learning and clinical training, the first class of Northeastern Technical College’s Community Health Workers have graduated and are ready to take their places in the local workforce.
The Community Health Worker (CHW) curriculum is a new certification program at NETC that trains individuals for a career pathway which is also relatively new to the medical community. Community health workers are being sought after by area healthcare providers to work as liaisons between provider and patient. They are responsible for providing basic health care information, resources, and counseling, while also educating patients about how to effectively self manage their health.
Jessica Brunetti of Florence has already set her eyes on the prize, saying she has a second interview with a local healthcare provider next week for a position as a community health worker. She is optimistic that she will get the job.
“I am looking forward to going out and working in the community,” said Brunetti. “The services that we provide, such as screenings and education, can make a huge impact in the health of our community.
Carrie Burch of Ruby is another graduate of the CHW program. She completed her training while working full-time at a local industrial plant. Instead of looking for a job right away, Carrie plans to continue with her education before taking her certification and training into the workforce.
“I am excited to be a part of this new career pathway,” said Carrie Burch. “The community health worker training is just my start though. I plan to enroll in either the certified nursing assistant or phlebotomy program at NETC to build upon what I have learned so far.”
Major roles of the community health worker include helping improve access to health care for ethnic minorities, educating families about health care coverage and promoting healthy communities.
Graduate Brenda Petruccelli of McColl, has been working for the past six years for CareSouth Carolina as a community care coordinator and says her new role, as a community health worker will be similar to the work that she’s already been doing. Using her past experience and knowledge, she explained the value of community health workers in the community.
“I love what I do and truly understand how vital outreach programs are in our community,” said Petruccelli. “We go to where the people live, and work with them in their own environment, on their own terms, to reinforce what the doctors and nurses say in the medical office or hospital setting.”
“We call this client-centered care, because ultimately the patient is the one in charge of their own health,” Petruccelli added. “We are here to be a resource to them, and to help put the power in their hands, when it comes to maintaining their health.”
Students considering enrollment in NETC’s community health worker training program must have a high school diploma or GED and score a level three or higher on the Work Keys: “Reading For Information” assessment test. Options are available for students seeking financial aid and students who are SNAP recipients may be eligible for free tuition.
The next community health worker program will begin in January 2014 and last six weeks, meeting Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. followed by a four-hour practicum from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at a designated clinical center.
Persons interested in becoming a community health worker, and who would like to enroll in the upcoming training program, should contact NETC’s Division of Continuing Education at (843) 921-6925 or toll free (800) 921-7399. For details about other courses and programs offered at NETC, visit www.netc.edu