What is an Integrated Public Health Worker
An Integrated Public Health Worker, also known as a Community Health Worker, is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. An Integrated Public Health Worker or Community Health Worker also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy. [https://www.apha.org/apha-communities/member-sections/community-health-workers]
What Does an Integrated Public Health Worker/Community Health Worker Do?
Within today’s booming healthcare industry, a community health worker is a trained professional who offers a link between community members and other health professionals to develop strategies that will improve public health for enhanced well-being. As medical costs continue to rise, the demand for integrated public health workers and community health workers will be very high to teach the public about healthy habits and behaviors to avoid costly chronic conditions or medical procedures. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the employment of community health workers will skyrocket by the rapid rate of 21%, thus creating 10,200 new jobs before 2022. If you are interested in educating the public to reduce the occurrence of lung cancer, heart disease, skin cancer, diabetes, asthma, HIV, obesity, and much more, becoming an integrated public health worker or community health worker may be the right job for you!
Using their in-depth knowledge on the communities they serve, integrated public health workers are given the responsibility of identifying health-related issues affecting the community, collecting data, and discussing health concerns with the public. They typically report their findings to other healthcare providers so that they can effectively create new programs that suit the demands of the surrounding communities. In addition, most community health workers will also be involved in removing barriers to care by providing referrals for housing, education, health care, food, and mental health services. Integrated public health workers assist residents with navigating the complex health system, improve care coordination, conduct outreach programs, and offer informal counseling for social support.
Where Do Integrated Public Health Workers/Community Health Workers Work?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an estimated 40,500 integrated public health workers/community health workers employed in many different settings across the nation. The highest percentage of community health workers is employed in individual, family, community, and vocational rehabilitation services. However, integrated public health/community health workers can also find employment options available in state or local government agencies, hospitals, outpatient centers, ambulatory care services, non-profit organizations, physicians’ offices, private corporations, and universities. Rather than working in an office, community health workers usually spend the majority of their full-time schedule in the field to communicate with the public, attend programs, and hold events.
How Can I Become an Integrated Public Health/Community Health Worker?
Community health workers who have taken courses related to wellness, ethics, cultural awareness, nutrition, health promotion, and community health education will have strong prospects. As many communities across the United States are becoming increasingly diverse, it is also highly recommended that integrated public health workers learn foreign languages to better communicate with residents. Being bilingual will make you more marketable as a job candidate. Overall, community health workers are important members of the health care team who are on the frontline for directly working with community members to educate them on the availability of medical services and ensure their care needs are being met. Becoming an integrated public health worker/community health worker could be a great way for you to do your part in improving public health outcomes by teaching people how to live healthy lives.
[adapted from: https://www.socialworkdegreeguide.com/faq/what-does-a-community-health-worker-do/]
What courses at PVCC can help me become an Integrated Public Health Worker?
There are a number of courses at PVCC that can help you prepare for a job or career as an Integrated Public Health Worker. In addition to a number of general education courses in English, math, psychology, and biology, students interested in becoming Integrated Public Health Workers or Community Health Workers should take the following courses at PVCC (click on the individual course links below to learn more about each course):
IPH101 Introduction to Public Health (NEW!!! Will be offered for the first time at PVCC this Fall 2018!!)
IPH105 Introduction to Patient Navigation (NEW!!! Will be offered at PVCC in Spring 2019)
IPH115 Introduction to Health Administration and the U.S. Health System (NEW!!! Will be offered at PVCC in Spring 2019)
IPH110 Principles of Health and Behavior Change (NEW!!! Will be offered at PVCC in Summer 2019)
IPH201 Introduction to Epidemiology (NEW!!! Will be offered at PVCC in Summer 2019)
If you are interested in becoming an Integrated Public Health Worker, one of the first things you should do is contact one of the Integrated Public Health faculty members here on campus. They would love to answer any questions you have about Integrated Public Health Workers or any of the other Integrated Public Health specialties, such as Public Health Educator, Patient Navigator, Health Administrator, or Mobile Integrated Health Care Worker. They will also help you select courses to take and offer advice on jobs and scheduling as well as getting you hooked up with all the resources PVCC has available on campus to make your learning experiences successful.