Community Health Program Coordinators
Education and Training Requirements
English, speech, and writing classes are highly recommended because you’ll need to be a top-notch communicator. Consider joining the debate club to obtain experience speaking in front of groups and conveying information. It’s a good idea to learn a foreign language in order to more effectively communicate with clients who do not speak English fluently or at all. Spanish is highly recommended, but other languages are also in demand. Some areas of the United States have a large number of immigrants from China, India, or the Philippines. Other community health jobs are located on Native American reservations or in locations that are near tribal areas. Take business management classes, run for student council, and try to serve on leadership positions on school committees or clubs to build your leadership and managerial skills. Other recommended high school classes include health, anatomy and physiology, science, mathematics, statistics, data analysis, computer science, database management, social studies, and psychology.
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in public health, social work, health and wellness, health education, health promotion, or business management (with significant coursework in public health or social work) is required to enter the field. Some employers require candidates to have master’s degrees in public health, social work, or a related field. Additionally, students typically participate in at least one internship or co-op experience as part of their training.
Many colleges and universities and some private organizations offer in-person, online, or hybrid certificate programs in public health management, community health, public health, and related fields. For example, the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (the outreach arm of the University of Washington School of Public Health) offers a one-year public health management certificate to students who complete the following courses: Organizational Systems, Managing People and Teams, Financial Management, Program Evaluation, Conflict Resolution and Negotiation Skills, and Health Communication. Visit https://www.nwcphp.org/training/public-health-management-certificate for more information. Additionally, Unite For Sight (a nonprofit that supports eye clinics worldwide in order to provide quality eye care for all people regardless of their socioeconomic background) offers a certificate in public health management. Visit http://www.uniteforsight.org/public-health-management to view the course requirements. Contact schools and organizations in your area to learn about available programs.
Other Education or Training
Continuing education classes and webinars are provided by the American Public Health Association, Association for Community Health Improvement, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of Community Health Workers, Society for Public Health Education, and other organizations (including those at the state and local levels).
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Some community health program coordinators earn certification credentials from the National Board of Public Health Examiners (certified in public health), National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (certified health education specialist, master certified health education specialist), and other organizations, but these credentials are not required.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Leadership experience with a nonprofit or community-based organization and/or experience with clinical social work or case management is recommended for aspiring coordinators. Some community health managers obtain experience by completing internships and fellowships while in college.
The most successful coordinators are passionate about providing assistance to the underserved, have knowledge of the specific needs of the communities they serve, and have a good understanding of their area’s health care and social service systems. Coordinators also need leadership ability; strong organizational, time-management, and critical-thinking skills, a detail-oriented personality; and excellent communication and interpersonal skills. They should be creative and strong problem-solving skills in order to tackle challenges in service delivery, develop new programs, and address staffing issues.