Northwest Vista College Program Helps Community Access Healthcare Special To MD Monthly July 21, 2016 Men's, Women's 2 Navigating the healthcare system can be a scary thing, especially for patients who are faced with a debilitating illness that may require ongoing care. Knowing where to turn can be frightening. Over the last 20 years, Northwest Vista College has put out a small army of community health students who are helping residents figure out what healthcare and social resources are available to them. Like a social worker, NVC’s Community Health program is focused on the health and wellness of the patient. Guadalupe Cornejo received an associates degree of applied science of community health in 2011. Since earning her degree, she’s been able to apply every concept she’s learned in her position. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, community and social service specialist jobs are expected to increase 26 percent by the year 2022 in the Alamo region” “I work in collaboration with community partners and colleagues in my field coordinating and facilitating access to health screenings by hosting health fairs in underserved communities in San Antonio,” she said. The Northwest Vista College Community Health program has been a leader in this field since 1998 with the majority of its alumni working in community health. In the last six years, there has been a proliferation of jobs that need workers knowledgeable in community health. The NVC program prepares students to work in public health, private healthcare delivery systems, community-based social service agencies and healthcare insurance organizations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, community and social service specialist jobs are expected to increase 26 percent by the year 2022 in the Alamo region. Dr. Fernando Martinez, NVC’s Community Health coordinator, said nearly 400 students have completed the program since 2005 when he became coordinator. “Physicians and clinicians want their patients to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Community health workers’ ability to form relationships and influence behavior with vulnerable populations who have significant medical and social issues is unparalleled,” Dr. Martinez explained. “We have evidence of improved outcomes when community health workers are part of the team.” “Community health workers’ ability to form relationships and influence behavior with vulnerable populations who have significant medical and social issues is unparalleled” -Dr. Fernando Martinez Armida V. Flores received a community health certificate from NVC several years ago. Originally from Mexico, Flores has excelled academically while helping her community as well. She started off by taking English as a Second Language classes, getting her GED, associate degree and eventually a bachelor’s degree. Currently, she’s employed as a health educator at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. One of her job duties is to help cancer survivors navigate the complex healthcare system. “I firmly believe that having a degree in community health helped me to obtain this gratifying job,” Flores shared with a smile. To learn more about the program visit: www.Alamo.edu.