243814 Jobs to Careers: Advancing Community Health Workers through Work-based learning

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 10:50 AM

Thomas R. Konrad, PhD , Program on Health Professions and Primary Care, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Jennifer Craft Morgan, PhD , North Carolina Institute on Aging, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Brandy Farrar, MA , Department of Sociology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Emmeline Chuang, PhD , Graduate School of Public Health, Division of Health Management and Policy, San Diego, CA
INTRODUCTION—Despite evidence that community health workers (CHWs) improve access and health outcomes for underserved populations, optimal use of CHWs in health care settings remains limited due to nonstandard preparation, unclear job descriptions, and inadequate career paths. This presentation examines challenges, facilitators, and effects of investing in CHWs in Jobs to Careers: Transforming the Frontlines of Health Care Initiative, a grant-funded program aimed at educating and advancing CHWs using partnerships between employers and universities or colleges. METHODS—Data from the evaluation of 5 Community Health Centers included: (1) semi-structured interviews and focus groups with CEOs, HR staff, and workers; (2) pre- and post-training surveys of participants and controls; and (3) a web-based database tracking participant progress. RESULTS—Employers supported workers' formal education (e.g., college credit, certification), training (e.g., continuing education), and career advancement (e.g., promotions, raises). Workers experienced increased self-confidence, organizational validation; upgraded pay and promotions, and more responsibility and autonomy. Organizations reported improved recruitment and retention, increased workforce morale and organizational commitment, and a more knowledgeable and skilled workforce. Critical factors in achieving successful outcomes included: (1) structural supports (tuition assistance and educational release time); (2) collaborations with educational institutions and community organizations; (3) formal support for barrier reduction (transportation, childcare, stress management); (4) basic skills assessment and remediation; (5) supportive supervision; and (6) emphasis on problem based and experiential learning. CONCLUSION—Systematically enhancing the education and career advancement of CHWs can be successfully implemented in community health workplaces and can benefit both workers and employers.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health administration or related administration

Learning Objectives:
Identify what conditions community health worker employers can use to promote career mobility for community health workers. Name the kinds of internal and external barriers impede career progress for community health workers Discuss how barriers can be overcome to promote career progress

Keywords: Community Health Promoters, Career Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the co-principal investigator of the national evaluation of the Jobs to Careers Program-- A career development program for frontline health care workers that has been implemented in 17 communities around the US with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Hitachi Foundation, and the US Department of Labor. As a Medical Sociologist for over 40 years, I have conducted numerous evaluations of Health Care workforce programs including the National Health Service Corps and a number of RWJF and HRSA sponsored programs. I am on the faculty of the Department of Health Policy & Management of the Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.