MSM Trains High School Community Health Workers to Create Health Equity

According to the American Public Health Association, Community Health Workers are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the community. This trusting relationship enables CHWs to serve as a liaison, link or intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

During the summer of 2016, MSM, with the support of the Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Healthcare Improvement (ARCHI), piloted an innovative high school community health worker (HSCHW) training program. The thought was that these students could provide vital health information to the underserved community and school population. During the pilot, MSM trained 13 high school students from  four Metro Atlanta high schools (McClarin, KIPP Collegiate, Tri-Cities, and Washington). Students were ages 15–18.

The MSM HSCHW training is:

  • 161 hours total, with 2.5 weeks (91 hours) of classroom instruction with core competencies/skills
  • 2 weeks (70 hours) of field instruction (summer intensive) and additional hours of continuing education (school year).
  • Includes a summer intensive training held every weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during July and early August.
  • During the school year (August–May), students meet monthly to receive educational booster sessions, discuss family/community monitoring activities, and work on the implementation of their community project.

The communities served by the MSM High School Community Health Worker program from 2016 – 2019 are surrounding areas demarcated by zip codes 30310, 30311, 30314, 30315, 30331, 30337, 30344, 30349, 30213 as well as neighborhood planning zones (NPUs) Z, X, S & R.

The MSM Prevention Research Center conducted a community needs assessment of South Atlanta and identified that diabetes, and related risk factors as high priorities for this region. Limited community health programs, education and training towards how to develop healthy diets and become physical activity in ways that were realistic and relevant in their community contexts were gaps contributing to this need. Therefore, the MSM High School Community Health Worker program plans to expand to the five-county metro area with a focus on recruiting from Title I schools.

Learn more about the Highschool Community Health Worker program.