The US health care field is seeking transformative strategies to improve access and quality, while controlling escalating costs and the prevalence of chronic preventable diseases. Each part of the heath care value chain is being systematically evaluated to redistribute work from higher- to lower-cost personnel where possible in order to prevent diseases, strengthen care coordination, reduce costs, and improve health outcomes. The emerging profession of Community Health Workers (CHWs) stands to play a significant role in these new efforts. If given the right training and opportunity, CHWs can deliver a range of upstream and prevention services, lead and facilitate innovations in care delivery and coordination, and thus, increase the likelihood of lasting impact and real positive outcomes.
Like health care, higher education is also under scrutiny. While the market shows a need for more employees with post-secondary education, prospective students are not enrolling in higher education programs for a variety of reasons - high cost, subsequent debt, and external obligations such as parenting, serving as the caretaker of adults, and working full or part-time jobs to name a few. Employers are also increasingly frustrated with the lack of work readiness and competencies of graduating students.
To achieve this mission, our program will offer adult learners of all ages a project-based educational experience that equips them with relevant competencies to succeed – all at a price they can afford. As a launching point for this new program, we will focus on the fast-evolving Community Health field, and specifically on the emerging, and multifaceted career of the Community Health Worker (CHW).