Prospective students interested in community health can take advantage of two new short-term certificate programs launching this fall at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College. The certificates can be earned in one or two semesters, with class schedules designed for participants already balancing work and family obligations.

The new Community Health Worker/Health Navigator 1 Certificate of Competence requires 15 credits, and will allow participants to finish in less than a year. New distance learning options will be also be available for Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Hāna, and Lāhainā.

Community health workers (CHWs) in Maui County hold job titles that include outreach specialist, wellness navigator, program assistant, and health aide. They serve as bridges between the community and healthcare and social services providers, helping to ensure services are accessible and culturally appropriate. CHWs often provide care coordination and supportive counseling. “This work is about trust and compassion,” said Haunani Kamakana, a navigator at Molokaʻi General Hospital. They also focus on prevention, leading outreach and education efforts and supporting individuals, families, and communities in making healthy changes. Dr. Joe Humphry, Medical Director of the Lānaʻi Community Health Center, notes that “CHWs connect people to the resources they need to stay healthy, detect problems early on and improve management of chronic conditions. They are essential members of our health care team.”

The CHW certificate was developed with input from local healthcare, public health, and social service employers, as well as national and state efforts like Hawaiʻi’s Healthcare Innovation Plan, and workforce studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Project partners include Lānaʻi Community Health Center and Na Puʻuwai. Leadership and key staff from Lānaʻi Community Health Center, Na Puʻuwai, Hui No Ke Ola Pono, Mālama I Ke Ola, Maui Family Support Services, Mālama Family Recovery Center, the Maui District Health Office, and other organizations have also participated in interviews to assess their workforce needs.

The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the demand for CHWs is growing faster than average, with 25% growth expected between 2012 and 2022. According to the Hawaiʻi Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ Hawaiʻi Health Careers website, that translates to 50 job openings each year in Hawaiʻi.

“This kind of collaboration between the college and industry experts is critical for developing certificates that support community needs, and prepare students with the real-world skills they need for careers with local businesses and organizations,” said Chancellor Lui Hokoana.

A partnership with Kapiʻolani Community College and the Department of Education (DOE) will also bring Kapiʻolani’s popular School Health Aide program to Maui for the first time this fall. Classes are open to current aides working in DOE schools, and distance learning options for aides on Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi are planned for next year.

The School Health Aide Certificate of Competence was developed by Kapiʻolani’s nursing faculty in consultation with public health nurses and practicing school health aides, and focuses on best practices to keep keiki healthy, safe, and ready to learn.

Both projects are supported by a new U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant awarded on October 1, 2014, and are designed to meet Maui County’s need for a skilled health and social services workforce. Fall classes at UH Maui College begin on August 24th.

To learn more about these new offerings, visit maui.hawaii.edu/communityhealth, maui.hawaii.edu/sha, or contact Selene LeGare, Health Program Specialist, at 984-3274.

The School Health Aide and Community Health Worker certificates are partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Funding does not pay for student costs to participate. The Nursing and Human Services programs are equal opportunity employers/programs. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.