The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing will use a $300,000 grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to establish a Community Health Worker Education Institute designed to help improve the quality of life and health outcomes of underserved populations in Central Texas.
More specifically, this institute will prepare lay health workers to focus on enhancing health and wellness and will help connect trained workers to paid positions in various community health systems. This initiative highlights the need for better reimbursement for these valuable community health services.
The institute will be under the auspices of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and the Center for Trans-Disciplinary Collaborative Research in Self-Management Science (TCRSS), one of three centers of excellence at the School of Nursing. The institute will establish a state-level training program for lay health workers, who are individuals trained to perform functions related to health care delivery but who have not received a formal professional degree.
“One of the barriers we’ve found in Texas to participation in the nation’s effort to transform the community health infrastructure is a lack of comprehensive training for lay health workers,” says Dr. Miyong Kim, DDCE associate vice president for Community Health Engagement and director of the Center for TCRSS. “The quality of training across the state varies and no central entity offers technical support or tools to enhance community health workers or connects them with work placement after training.”
The Center for TCRSS will begin with a comprehensive multi-level workforce analysis and will join forces with existing agencies that are currently providing community health worker training. The joint initiative will ensure health workers receive high quality, comprehensive, wide-ranging and measureable skills to better address chronic disease management, disease prevention, mental health, and, ultimately, improve public health.
In addition, the institute will offer educational and technical support to strengthen community capacity through systematic and specialized lay health worker training, such as diabetes management, cancer prevention and end of life discussions. These newly trained workers will serve as a catalyst to improve community health among underserved populations in Central Texas.
This post by Kathryn Wiley originally appeared on the School of Nursing website.