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New Programs Lead to Careers in Health Care

Submitted by on July 20, 2016 – 5:55 pm
NECC is launching a news community health worker certificate as well as a public health associate degree this fall.

NECC is launching a new community health worker certificate program as well as a public health associate degree this fall.

The health care industry offers more than just direct patient care job opportunities. Northern Essex Community College recognizes this and is launching two new iHealth programs – the community health worker certificate and the associate degree in public health – to address the needs of the local job market as well as the wishes of the community labor force.

Individuals interested in promoting health and wellness to individuals, families and communities are ideal candidates for these programs, which will begin in September 2016 and will be taught in a hybrid mode. Students will come on campus one to two evenings per week with additional work being completed online using Blackboard.  The capstone course for both programs includes a practicum experience. The Public Health Associate Degree prepares students to transfer onto a four-year college or university to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in health education, health administration or environmental health.

Northern Essex is the first Massachusetts community college to offer an associate degree in public health.

Individuals, who complete the community health worker certificate program through iHealth at NECC, will be trained to work in their communities to provide health education, assist with accessing health care services, collect statistics and coordinate care. The associate degree in public health takes this concept a step further providing classroom theory and field work experience.

“It’s the perfect blend of working with clients and performing administrative functions in diverse settings,” says Pat Demers, NECC professor and interim coordinator of the new program.

Both the certificate and degree were designed to meet the needs of the local communities, says Demers, while creating a career ladder for those interested in community health care.

“The bottom line is better patient outcomes for a community,” says Demers.

What can a community health worker expect for employment opportunities? According to, a leading job search engine, over the last six months, available positions include: peer navigator, care coordinator/community health worker, or patient navigator for certificate holders. While graduates of the associate degree in public health will find entry-level opportunities as a health promotion advocate, outreach coordinator, health educator, or family support coordinator, all of which assist members of their community in public health education.

Certificate graduates may transfer into the associate degree program and associate degree graduates may transfer into bachelor degree programs in health education, health administration, or environmental health.

There are three public health information sessions scheduled for Friday, July 22, at 10 a.m. in Lawrence, 414 Common St. Rm. 307; Wednesday, July 27, at 5:30 p.m. in Lawrence, 78 Amesbury St., Rm. 105; and Friday, July 29, noon, Lawrence, 414 Common St., Rm. 307.

iHealth general information sessions are scheduled for Lawrence, 78 Amesbury St., Rm. 105, Wednesday, July 27, at 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday, August 10, 1 p.m.; Wednesday, August 24, 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, August 31, at 4:30 p.m.; September 14, 10 a.m.; Wednesday, September 28, at 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, October 12, at 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday, October 26, at 10 a.m.; Wednesday, November 16, at 4:30 p.m. and Wednesday, November 30, at 4:30 p.m.

For additional information for either program contact Linda Comeau at or call her at 978738-7610 or Cristina Nuncio at or 978-738-7609 or visit iHealth page.

NECC offers a variety of health care degrees and certificates that prepare students for entry level health care positions. These are offered days, evenings, weekends, and online. For a complete list visit NECC’s health website.