Riegelman Awards for Excellence in Public Health & Health Navigation Education in Community Colleges

2018 Riegelman Awards Now Open

The Riegelman Awards are presented to colleges that demonstrate excellence in planning or enhancing associate degree or certificate programs in Public Health and Health Navigation education, or that include public health courses in Allied Health, Nursing, First Responder, Health Foundations, or related programs. Programs or courses must be consistent with the recommendations of the Community Colleges & Public Health Final Report. The Riegelman Awards will be presented at the League's March 2018 Innovations Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. The Riegelman Awards for Excellence in Public Health & Health Navigation Education in Community Colleges are funded by Richard and Linda Riegelman as well as by Jones and Bartlett Learning.

Letter of Intent Deadline: July 1, 2017

Community colleges interested in applying for the Riegelman Awards must submit a letter of intent signed by the Chief Academic Official that commits the institution to develop a plan or to implement public health or health navigation program or courses compatible with the recommendations of the CC&PH report. Institutions may focus on one or both of the model curricular frameworks in developing courses or certificate and/or associate degree programs. Additional innovative designs are also encouraged. The letter of intent must include the CV of a faculty member who has agreed to take the lead in planning the courses or program. It must also include an indication of the types of support the lead faculty can expect from the community college administration.

Community college systems as well as well as single community colleges are eligible to submit letters of intent. Institutions with existing public health programs are eligible if these programs are consistent with the recommendations of the CC&PH report. Partnerships with 4-year colleges are encouraged but not required.

A series of webinars produced in summer 2015 are available in the Community Colleges and Public Health Project community. To join the community, select Join Community Group in your My Account dropdown, at the top of the page.

Letters of intent are due July 1, 2017. Submit letters of intent to Cynthia Wilson via email to wilson@league.org or fax to 480.705.8201. 

Planning Templates Deadline: October 31, 2017

All eligible community colleges will be invited to submit a plan, following the appropriate Planning Template, for one or more public health associate degree and/or certificate programs, or for public health courses, including a timeline for implementation and evaluation. Plans are due on October 31, 2017.

Riegelman Awards for Excellence in Public Health & Health Navigation Education in Community Colleges

Up to 6 community colleges that complete this process by submitting a plan will be recognized at the League's Innovations Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, in March 2018. A stipend of $1,000 will be provided to cover travel expenses, and the League will waive the Innovations Conference registration fee for one representative from each college being recognized. Criteria for review of the plans will include quality of the planning for implementation and evaluation; institutional commitment; and evidence of interest and support by students, community college administration, and the local community.

Each community college being recognized will:

  • Have its plans for development and evaluation of its public health program(s) posted on the League's website as part of the CC&PH project;
  • Participate in authoring article(s) on the CC&PH project for submission during the year following recognition; and
  • Be encouraged to provide advice and consultation to other community colleges that seek to develop public health programs.

The Community Colleges and Public Health Project

The League for Innovation in the Community College (League) Community Colleges and Public Health Project has recommended that community colleges whose mission includes a focus on health professions education consider offering associate degree and/or certificate programs in public health. The project was initiated in partnership with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Framing the Future task force.

Two prototype curricular models were developed with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These are Public Health: Generalist & Specializations and Health Navigator. The Public Health: Generalist & Specialization includes specializations in Health Education, Health Administration, and Environmental Health designed for transfer to bachelor's degree programs. The Health Navigator is designed as certificate or associate degree programs preparing students for careers as community health workers, patient navigators, and health insurance navigators (see below).

The final CC&PH report, approved by the ASPPH Framing the Future Task Force, includes the prototype curricular models. In addition, the League has developed a Guide to Public Health and Health Navigation Education in Community Colleges with recommendations for community colleges on developing and implementing public health programs in community colleges.

Health Navigator Associate Degree and Academic Certificate Programs

What are Health Navigator associate degree and certificate programs? What do the graduates do?

"Health Navigator" is the term being used by the League for Innovation in the Community College and the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health to describe the academic degree and certificate programs that they recommend be offered by community colleges in their November 2014 Community Colleges and Public Health Report. The report outlines a 30 semester credit hour curriculum including course content outlines that may be incorporated into an associate degree or offered as an academic certificate program. 

These degrees are designed to prepare students to work in jobs with titles including community health worker, patient navigator, and health insurance navigator. Health Navigator academic degree and certificate programs can be designed to be compatible with a wide range of health systems, state regulations, and approaches to delivery of health services. 

The need for individuals with the skills to help patients obtain and maximally benefit from community services, clinical care, and health insurance is becoming a major issue in the increasingly complex and expensive U.S. health system. Those with Health Navigator training may assist individuals with limited health literacy as well as the elderly with accessing community services. They may facilitate access to care and follow-up for sick and complicated patients with cancer, HIV, and a range of other complex problems. In addition these individuals can assist with identifying and enrolling patients in health insurance plans, including those available through the ACA Exchanges as well as Medicaid, Medicare, and Community Health Centers.

Why is Health Navigator an exciting new career path? What are the opportunities, options, and settings available for career initiation and advancement? 

While this need has existed for a long time, until recently there have not been paid positions with well-defined roles to fill the need. This is rapidly changing. There is now a growing commitment to provide job positions and an emerging strategy for integrating these positions into the health care and public health systems.

The Community College and Public Health Report and the Recommendations by the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges indicate the following:

  • New funding mechanisms as part of Medicaid, Medicare's 30 day hospital readmission policy, and the Affordable Care Act have dramatically increased interest in developing the types of paid positions requiring academic Health Navigator education. These positions usually include salaries in the range of $30,000 to $55,000 per year compatible with the expectations of many community college graduates. The Labor Department estimates that the positions for Community Health Workers, the only Health Navigators job classification tracked by the Labor Department, will increase at least 25 percent by 2022.
  • It is important to recognize that entry level and supervisory positions are being defined, providing the potential for career advancement. In addition, the Community Colleges and Public Health report recommends that associate degree Health Navigator programs be designed to allow students to transfer to bachelor's degree programs in Health Education.
  • As indicated in the recommendations of the League for Innovation in the Community College, the growing acceptance of Health Navigators as part of the health care delivery team is reflected in a 2014 revision of the Clinical Prevention and Population Health curriculum framework of the Healthy People Curriculum Task Force, which includes representatives of eight national health professions educational associations, including medicine, nursing, nurse practitioner, pharmacy, dentistry, physician assistants, and allied health professions. The Task Force encourages all these health professions to teach “Principles of health care team practice, including understanding of the diverse roles of…patient navigators and community health workers" (www.aptrweb.org). 

The education of Health Navigators is rapidly emerging and becoming part of the health system. It now has an increasingly solid financial and academic status which is highly likely to lead to rapid growth over the next decade and beyond.