Manchester University
Oak Leaves

February 22, 2019


Dr. Gabby Morales, assistant professor of health communication is also a certified community health worker. She designed, developed, and implemented the community health worker course that began this spring.

Photo provided by Emily Horsely

MU Offers New Community Health Worker Course

Tiffany Williams


A new community health worker course has started this semester at Manchester University with a total of 17 students under direction of Dr. Gabriela Morales.

Morales is an assistant professor of health communication who designed, developed and implemented the health communication major and minor at Manchester. She is also a certified community health worker.

A community health worker is a front-line public health worker who is a trusted member of their community with an unusually close understanding of it. The trusting relationship the health worker creates enables the worker to serve as a link between health and or social services and the community to help give access and improve the quality of cultural competence of the services.

Community health workers also increase health knowledge and self-sufficiency through informal counseling, outreach, community education and social support and advocacy.

“I believe our students need to stand out when they go into the workforce and or graduate school,” said Morales through email. “Having certification in [community health work] is a great addition to our students who are interested in the health field. Even students who are not and are taking the class for other reasons, this is significant for them as well. They get to experience health in a more profound way.”

She continues to emphasize how important hands-on experience is and how it is provided through the training course. “I am always looking for opportunities for our MU students,” Morales said. “That is the main reason why I decided to make sure MU became an official vendor.”

Morales had to do a lot to make the class happen at all. She said the process is usually worked on by three to four people, but she alone went through the process for Manchester. It started out with Morales having to fill out a short application that would help the Indiana Community Health Workers Association (INCHWA) verify that she was qualified to provide training for the course.

Once she was told she was qualified, she engaged in a series of conference calls with INCHWA and potential vendors, which are organizations that provide community health workers training. The calls mapped out the steps Morales needed to take to get curriculum certification and enabled her to answer any questions the vendors had.

Next, Morales was sent a 12-page packet including a curriculum submission form with around 70 learning outcomes to be addressed, supporting documents on when chapters would be discussed, a small internship students have to complete, quizzes, costs, as well as other documents.

After a two-month review process, Morales was contacted for clarification purposes and finally given the green light for MU to become an official vendor. It was almost a year’s worth of work toward developing the training course.

The current certification Manchester holds as an approved vendor to teach the course continues until late fall of 2021, but this particular training course will be offered every spring at the university.

This training course is open to community members as well as to MU students, with the course offering a minimum of 30 seats to the public. However, MU students have to pay $40 for their INCHWA membership whereas community members would have to pay $1,500 for their training costs, including their membership fee.