Finding the proper healthcare and insurance can be a headache for many people. There may be affordable services and treatments that could deliver huge benefits to many Americans who are just not aware the services are available. For low income individuals with serious health conditions, this is a particularly serious issue. And if more people were aware of preventative health measures that can be taken, the world in general would be healthier. But society is in luck; a growing category of health care jobs, commonly referred to as “community health outreach workers” is here to address these very issues.
One of the main goals of this category of jobs is to reduce high-cost hospitals stays for Medicaid users. An excellent example of this purpose in action is given in an article on Philly.com entitled How a New Kind of Worker May Keep Patients Healthier. Geraldine Saunders is a 61 year old patient on disability with multiple health problems, including rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and a heart aneurysm. Stacy Atkinson, her community health outreach worker, was able to help her get affordable access to medications she needed to improve her health.
As baby boomers age, the demand for community health outreach workers is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this category of jobs will grow 13% from 2014 to 2024, which is a higher than the average percentage of growth for all careers overall. The annual salary for a community health outreach worker ranges from $32,000 to $48,000, depending on experience level.
What is a Community Health Outreach Worker?
Community health outreach workers act as liaisons between members of a particular community and the health care and social services available to them. They ensure that the population of that community is properly educated and informed on healthcare and social issues affecting them, and how many conditions can be prevented and/or treated. The duties involved in a job as a community health outreach worker include the following:
- Helping low income individuals get access to health insurance and other government assistance available to them, such as food and housing
- Provide on-site health care services such as immunizations, screenings for diseases and blood pressure screenings
- Promote sanitation and family planning
- Visit the homes of disabled and elderly patients and those with health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes and provide care
- Building awareness on social issues such as substance abuse and domestic violence, and health issues such as breast cancer and HIV/AIDs
- Helping health and social services adapt to a community’s cultural traditions and needs
Where Do Community Health Outreach Workers Find Employment?
Community health outreach workers can work in any type of community, but they are most needed in communities that are low income, high risk for serious diseases, or whose cultural traditions vary significantly from the way traditional medicine is practiced (such as communities with immigrant and migrant workers). There are many of these communities in the United States, but some community health outreach workers go overseas to work in third world countries such as Haiti and Africa. Community health outreach worker jobs are available at government and nonprofit organizations for the most part, such as hospitals, homeless shelters and non-profit health insurance companies.
How Do You Get a Job as a Community Health Outreach Worker?
To get a job as a community health outreach worker, the minimum education needed is a high school diploma and on-the-job training, though a bachelor’s or associate’s degree is preferred in some cases. Some states offer formal training and certification programs for community health workers. A good candidate for a job as a community health outreach worker should be outgoing, compassionate, patient, interested in healthcare and social work, and a strong leader. It is also recommended that the candidate be familiar with the community they are serving. If you are looking to make a difference in improving the overall health of our population, and making people aware of their health care options, this is the job for you.
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