Community Health Worker Training Gets Extra Boost

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Community Health Worker Training Class

Students in the Fall 2014 program are shown practicing CPR skills. The Community Health Worker Training is a 64-hour certificate program, with the next course starting Feb. 20.

A high in-demand training program for community health workers has recently received an extra boost from the state, in time for the next round of classes starting in February.

Workforce Development and Community Education (WDCE) currently teaches the only in-person Community Health Worker certificate program in Nevada. On Dec. 30, officials made an announcement to fund students in the next training series.

“The Nevada Department of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) announced it is supporting WDCE’s training by paying for 15 students to take the program,” said Nicole McDowell, WDCE program manager and one of the lead developers of the training course.

Since the program’s tuition is $959, the state’s added contribution will add up to more than $14,000 toward the next group of students.

The training is offered twice a year, with the next course starting Feb. 20.

The course is eight weeks long and is typically offered during Fall and Spring Semesters. It runs on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. and totals 64 hours of training. Students receive a certificate upon successful completion.

Paid tuition will mean a great deal to the students.

“All WDCE programs are self-supporting, so students pay the full course fee at the time of registration,” McDowell said. “WDCE is non-credit, so financial aid is not applicable to any of our courses. I love the fact that students can get career training at no cost in a budding field that will be a stepping stone into the in-demand field of healthcare.”

Funding for 15 students is expected to have a positive impact for the community.

“This program will benefit Northern Nevada by training students in the emerging career of community health worker,” McDowell said. “This certificate is a stackable credential that could help them as they seek productive employment.”

The health training program began in 2014

The Community Health Worker Certificate was built when Vance Farrow from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) asked in 2014 for more entry level health care skills programs to be taught.

The Governor’s Workforce Investment Board Health Care and Medical Services Sector Council—made up of state education officials and medical professionals—asked TMCC and the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) to create the certificate program. Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) was on board and staff quickly took action.

An executive team was formed, made up of NSHE Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences, Marcia Turner and Manager for Health Sciences, Lee Quick. Joining the committee were industry experts, a representative from the Governor's Office of Economic Development, Nancy Holman and Joan Rutledge, both administrators from CSN’s Workforce Development department, and three field experts.

“We created the program from scratch,” McDowell said. “We looked at best practices in other states and found that there is no standard curriculum nationally, so we pulled pieces from Texas, New York and Minnesota to fit the needs of our state.”

CSN and TMCC received funding from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) to start a pilot program, and TMCC continues to offer the training. CSN provides curriculum support to TMCC.

“The first class started in October 2014 and completed in December 2014,” McDowell said. “TMCC has run the course each term after that, with the next class starting February 2016.”

McDowell said that the training program is right in line with what community education is all about.

“The fact that it's only eight weeks is helpful and supports our mission at WDCE which is, ‘Get in. Get out. Get a job’,” she said.

For more information about the Community Health Worker Certificate Program, contact WDCE.