RIC to Offer Community Health Worker Certification

Rhode Island College’s new Community Health Worker Certification Program will provide specialized training for professionals and volunteers while helping the state develop an in-demand skilled workforce.

Offered through RIC’s Outreach Programs in partnership with the R.I. Department of Health and the Community Health Workers Association of Rhode Island (CHWARI), the program is partially funded through a grant sponsored by the R.I. Department of Human Services.

Community health workers assist patients to minimize barriers between community, health and social institutions through roles including informal counseling, advocating for individual and community needs and providing direct health services.

Many Rhode Island employers send health care professionals to community health training developed by the CHWARI, the program on which RIC is basing this course.

“RIC’s Outreach Programs has more than 20 years of experience running noncredit training programs, and we have extensive and long-standing contacts with appropriate internship sites,” Giroux said.

The 12-week training program at RIC will include six weeks of classroom instruction and six weeks of experiential learning through a 100-hour internship in an approved facility.

Course instruction will train workers in many community health skills, including:

·      Developing community connections.

·      Working with individuals and families.

·      Communicating effectively with patients.

·      Supporting access to services.

·      Advocating for individuals and a community.

Students also will work on soft skills, including preparing and updating résumés and maintaining workplace expectations. English as a Second Language training is available within the program as needed.

“Currently, the occupation of Community Health Worker is on the high-demand career list for Rhode Island and encompasses many different career opportunities,” said Jenifer Giroux, interim associate vice president for Professional Studies and Continuing Education.

A 2014 report issued by the Governor’s Workforce Board and its health care industry partners states that both the Affordable Care Act and an aging population have increased the need for health care workers in Rhode Island. Citing the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, the report states that the health care and social service industry is expected to grow by 16.2 percent through 2020 and to add thousands of jobs in many community health worker settings, including ambulatory services, hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities and social assistance agencies.

Forty-four percent of employers surveyed for the report stated they would have an increased need for community health workers. Employers also reported a need for stronger skills among these workers, including in communication, clinical skills and professionalism.  

“This program will enable participants to gain employment, to transition from volunteer to paid employee and to strengthen job knowledge and skill sets,” Giroux said.

To be eligible for the program, students must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or an equivalent degree. Financial aid may be available. For more information, visit www.ric.edu/outreach, call 456-8698 or email tclarke@ric.edu