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School of Nursing receives HRSA grant to train community health workers | School of Nursing

Vanderbilt School of Nursing has received a $3 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to create a training program, standardized set of competencies and certification for community health workers in Tennessee. The new initiative is in partnership with the Tennessee Community Health Worker Association and Rural Health Association of Tennessee. The Community Health Worker Training Program of Tennessee, which kicks off with informational sessions in early 2023, will train up to 90 people per year to help their communities.  Community health workers are employed by social service agencies, clinics, hospitals, schools and health departments, and are crucial for those who have limited access to medical resources.  “They most often speak the language and share the culture of their community, and they help integrate medical information from health care professionals into everyday life,” said Project Director and VUSN Instructor Tonya Elkins, MSW, adding that community health workers generally have no formal medical training, but know their neighbors well.  They also understand potential barriers that residents face when they need care—everything from mistrust of medical professionals and misconceptions to transportation issues.  “They help people get appropriate access for their health care and help with social resource needs, like food insecurities, housing or other services,” said Associate Professor Christian Ketel, DNP, FNAP, the program project evaluator.  The combined efforts of the School of Nursing, the Tennessee Community Health Worker Association and the Rural Health Association of Tennessee will bolster community health workers across the state.  “This community health worker training program will provide professional development, training and certification to the often-underrepresented community health worker workforce,” said Nikayla Boyd, executive director, Tennessee Community Health Worker Association. “Our partnerships’ statewide reach in offering these services will continue to highlight the importance of community health workers in Tennessee, leading to program and job sustainability and improved health outcomes for Tennessee.” 

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