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Image of Kettering College. Courtesy Kettering College

Kettering College Works to Close Health Care Gap

By Rebecca Ingle 

Kettering College recognizes the need to help connect marginalized communities to health care resources. To that end, the college is launching a Community Health Worker Certificate Program to help address the health care disparities among these communities. 

Community health workers (CHWs) serve in the communities in which they live. They bridge the gap between community members and their health care providers. As entry-level health care workers, CHWs are a human connection for patients, helping educate them, build trust, and connect them to resources.  

Participants in the Kettering College CHW certificate program will learn basic anatomy and physiology; across-the-lifespan education; how to obtain vital signs; and professional skills such as how to do a home visit and communicate with providers. CHWs serve as the contact between patient and provider, along with being part educators, part social workers, and part nursing assistants. 

Johnjé Jasper, BSN, RN, has worked as an emergency department nurse in the Dayton area and has seen the need for outreach in the community. She brings this knowledge to her role as program coordinator for this new program at Kettering College, which is possible due to a grant received from the Health Resources and Services Administrations (HRSA). The grant will also cover tuition for participants, as well as wrap-around services, which include things such as a laptop, childcare, and transportation assistance. 

Students must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED. Jasper said, “They don’t have to have a medical background or college experience. We want to reach the population who looks like the community they’re going to serve as a CHW one day. The whole point of this program is for patients to have a healthcare provider who looks like them.” 

She said by training CHWs who can relate to patients because they have similar experiences, it can often take the shame out of asking for help because it is a shared, normalized experience. Jasper said, “Because the CHWs will be coming from the community, they can say ‘Hey, I used this food pantry before’ or ‘I’ve been to Job and Family Services, and I know they will take care of you, just like they took care of me.’” 

The first CHW cohort is expected to begin the fall of 2023 with the curriculum lasting 12-16 weeks. Jasper will make sure the classes meet in the evenings to be accessible to the working person. The certificate program will consist of 100 hours of didactic work and 130 hours of clinical practicum, which will include simulation and community outreach.  

Kettering College hopes to have 150 certified CHWs in place within three years in the Trotwood and Dayton area, two locations designated as medically underserved by the HRSA. “Participants might realize once they become a CHW they like it so much, they want to keep going to be a nurse or social worker,” Jasper said. “I want this to be transformational for participants.” 



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