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Careers in Community Health

UH Maui College News Release

Prospective students interested in community health can take advantage of two new short-term certificate programs launching this fall at the University of Hawaii 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 Molokai, Lanai, Hana, and Lahaina.

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 Molokai 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 Lanai 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 Hawaii’s Healthcare Innovation Plan, and workforce studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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

“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 Kapi`olani Community College and the Department of Education (DOE) will also bring Kapi`olani’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 Molokai and Lanai are

Fall classes at UH Maui College begin on Aug. 24. 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.


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