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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Texas A&M Awarded Funding to Train Community Health Workers in Cancer Education and Navigation

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) recently awarded a $300,000 grant to train community health workers (CHWs) in more effective cancer education and navigation to Dr. Jane N. Bolin, professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health and director of the Southwest Rural Health Research Center.

Bolin Friday Letter

[Photo: Dr. Jane N. Bolin]

Dr. Bolin works in collaboration with Ms. Katy Nimmons, director of the National CHW Training Center, part of the Center for Community Health Development at Texas A&M. They certify new CHW and new CHW instructors and offer continuing education courses.

There are over 3,000 certified CHW in Texas, and they do everything from door-to-door education about things like breast cancer to helping patients with every aspect of the screening. For example, instead of just telling women that they need to get a mammogram, they might help her find a provider and make the appointment, ensure she has transportation and childcare so she go to the appointment, and follow up with her afterward to see if she has any questions about the test or the results. It’s a growing field.

Dr. Bolin has received prior CPRIT funding, and this new award is only available to previous applicants who had successful CPRIT grants to scale up the projects. With the funding, they will be able to package materials for other training centers and community health worker programs across the state, from McAllen and Corpus Christi to Tyler, thereby reaching more people. They will also put the materials online for even more CHW instructors to be able to access to serve as a model nationally. “There are a lot of disparities in the state in cancer screenings, and then cancer outcomes and mortality—not all Texans have the same chance,” Ms. Nimmons said. “CHWs, we’ve seen, are an effective strategy to reach people who are most at risk.”

“This is a very timely endeavor because of the Affordable Care Act, which envisions a greater role for navigators and community health workers,” Dr. Bolin said. “Health care organizations are now reimbursed for this type of service under an individual’s insurance.”

CPRIT provides funding through its academic research, prevention and product development research programs. In 2007, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment to establish CPRIT with $3 billion in bonds.