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Grant to UW Creates New Career Track in Community Health

October 3, 2022

A new program that will train professionals in one of the nation’s fastest-growing health careers soon will be offered by the University of Wyoming, thanks to a $3 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The Wyoming Community Health Worker Training Consortium will establish a formal training and credentialing program for community health workers in Wyoming through UW’s College of Health Sciences.

As nonclinical professionals who live in and represent the communities they serve, community health workers provide patient education, serve as patient advocates and help community members navigate the health care and social services systems to achieve and maintain health. This emerging profession is particularly impactful in rural communities, but many states do not have formal, statewide training and certification programs.

“We’re delighted that our College of Health Sciences has stepped up for Wyoming to provide this new opportunity for the state,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “In addition to creating a new career path for many people, this program promises to enhance the state’s health care system for all Wyomingites.”

In addition to establishing a formal community health worker training and certification program at UW and creating apprenticeships across the state in collaboration with the state of Wyoming and a broad network of partners, the HRSA grant will provide scholarships and other financial support to Wyoming residents wishing to enter the health care workforce as community health workers.

“There is extensive evidence that community health workers have a substantial impact on the health status of the communities they serve, and this is especially the case in rural communities,” says Bryant Smalley, Wyoming Excellence Chair in Rural Health in the College of Health Sciences, who will serve as the project’s leader. “Creating a training and certification program here in Wyoming will have a significant effect on access to care and on positive health outcomes.”

The initiative also will conduct research on the community-level impact that these professionals have on health and wellness outcomes, as well as their economic impact in rural and frontier areas.

“As a critical new entry-level health profession, community health workers offer the opportunity to expand the health care workforce while also including increased representation in that workforce of the many communities represented in our state,” says Jacob Warren, dean of UW’s College of Health Sciences. “Through this program, we are excited to further expand the college’s central mission of providing health and wellness professionals for all of Wyoming.”

About the College of Health Sciences

UW’s College of Health Sciences trains health and wellness professionals and researchers in a wide variety of disciplines, including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, communication disorders, social work, kinesiology, community and public health, and disability studies.

The college also oversees residency and fellowship programs in Casper and Cheyenne, as well as operating primary care and speech/hearing clinics in Laramie, Casper and Cheyenne. With more than 1,600 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, the college is dedicated to training the health and wellness workforce of Wyoming and conducting high-quality research and community engagement, with a particular focus on rural and frontier populations.

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