Community Health Worker Training Offers New Career Path Supporting Patients

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Rose Marie Brown-Carr worked for 16 years as a medical records specialist, watching co-workers leave through rounds of layoffs and managing to survive at the company while working 70 hours a week.

Although she had a successful run at the company and was one of only a few employees left at what appeared to be a profitable enterprise, eventually Brown-Carr faced unemployment as the company continued to shed jobs. 

Through the Connecticut Department of Labor, Brown-Carr learned about the WorkPlace Platform to Employment. From there, Brown-Carr, a mother of three, learned about Gateway Community College’s Community Health Worker Training Program and became excited about the idea of pursuing a new career path.  As a community health worker, Brown-Carr could tap into a new skill set.  Despite her substantial computer experience, she was frequently complimented on her interpersonal skills. 

Pursuing the Community Health Worker Training Program would allow Brown-Carr to get involved in a totally new career, one in which she would be able to provide direct services to patients by facilitating access to health care services and helping to support patients in achieving goals in their care plans.  Guiding patients to help them get access to health care and social services seemed to be a perfect fit. Through her coursework and internships, Brown-Carr found working with patients personally rewarding.

“I love helping people get the help they need in the community, that’s my passion,” said Brown-Carr, who focused her energies earlier in her career on seeing her children, now ages 29, 20 and 17, be successful.

On her way to completing the Community Health Worker training, she met fellow student Angel Jones, who had recently moved back to Connecticut from South Carolina and learned about the program through the SNAP Employment & Training Program.  The two women became friends and supported each other through the challenging coursework and internships. 

Brown-Carr interned at Project Access in New Haven, an organization that partners with local providers to identify underserved patients with urgent medical needs and connects them with donated medical care and services.  She also interned at Witnesses to Hunger in New Haven, a group of community members that advocate for food security. 

Brown-Carr and Jones are continuing their studies in GCC’s Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counselor Program. During internships, they met people who are struggling to overcome addiction and see earning an associate degree as another way to pursue work that will allow them to help individuals succeed and reach their potential.