As a CHW Instructor and Workforce Developer, Alisa Howard is also a CHW at heart. After six years in the public health field, Howard took a CHW course in 2018. Prior to this course. Howard mentions that the state of Nevada had not explored bringing CHWs, it was only after the director of the Nevada Health Department attended a conference did the term “Community Health Worker” come up.
CHW: Role and Term
Howard worked at the Southern Nevada Health District in the HIV/STD Surveillance Department as a Data Disease Collection Specialist. Not knowing that the work that she did was much similar to the work of a CHW, “I called them HIV navigators, we did CHW work, hindsight”.
She enjoys helping others, whether that is through direct CHW work with patients or being an instructor. Her favorite line is “Each one, teach one,” meaning that we should continue to learn and pass on our knowledge to others. If that keeps going, then knowledge is always being passed on.
Becoming a Director
Following Howard’s CHW training at the College of Southern Nevada, she was asked to be an Instructor for the CHW Training Program at the college and later accepted the position. Now Howard works for the Nevada CHW Association, teaching hybrid courses.
As a director, Howard continued to work with patients. A story that sticks with her is the moment a patient with HIV called her for help, stating that they were having financial issues and could not get to the doctors for treatment. Howard made the decision to personally drive the distance to pick them up, take them to their emergency visit, and stayed with them throughout the visit. The physician thanked Howard for taking the patient in, stating that the patient would have likely fallen into heart or renal failure in the next few days. “By all means necessary, we got to help people. If we all had that mentality, our country would not be where it is today”.
Advice to Aspiring CHWs
Howard’s advice is to “Do it”. She goes on to say that taking a CHW course will only help you, especially if you continue to work in the public health field. Howard recommends that others in the field of medicine should consider taking a CHW course to learn how to bring resources to patients. Being able to recognize the social determinants of health, and treat patients with cultural competency can bring so much positive change to the field of medicine.