News

9.29.2015

Miller School, State and Regional Partners Receive Award to Train Community Health Workers

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine along with the Health Council of South Florida and the Florida Community Health Worker Coalition have received a $250,000 award to develop a structured training program in patient-centered health care research for community health workers.

The two-year award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a first for the University of Miami, will build on the work being done by UM and its partners to promote the community health worker profession by incorporating patient-centered outcomes research training into the state certification program they have previously worked to develop. In addition, the project team will design a toolkit that will serve as a guide to develop similar training programs for community health workers in other states.

Community health workers play an integral role in reducing health inequalities. As trusted members of their communities, they connect the community to health and social services and help to improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. Speaking the language and understanding the culture allows them to identify and address both political and social barriers of underserved communities.

“Early on in our collaborative research with community partners, community health workers were identified as an important mechanism to address health disparities in our community,” said Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., Director of the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute Community Engagement and Cultural Diversity Program and the award’s principal investigator. “With this new award we will develop a formal program through which they will be trained to participate in research. We see this as a major step forward in creating a culturally competent research workforce in our state.”

The community health worker field is growing, both in interest and demand. Florida’s certification program not only recognizes this workforce but it defines standards in core competencies, brings accountability, subscribes to a code of ethics and provides for professional development.

With patients’ and community health workers’ input, the project team will develop a patient-centered outcomes research elective module that can be used toward state certification and train 100 community health workers in the next 24 months.

“The Health Council of South Florida looks forward to our enhanced partnership with the University of Miami as we bring valuable patient-centered research training to community health workers,” said Marisel Losa, CEO at Health Council of South Florida. “The two-year project will provide greater training opportunities for community health workers across the State of Florida, bringing additional recognition and credibility to this fast-growing workforce.”

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute supports projects that are guided by patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other health care stakeholders to improve health care delivery and outcomes.

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