The University of the District of Columbia and Howard University have partnered to train a healthcare workforce for the modern day, WTOP News reported.
The joint program, PHIT4DC, will allow those interested – from high schoolers to working healthcare professionals – to enroll in public health informatics and technology courses.
“Health care now is in the community,” said Dr. Mary Awuonda, director of Howard’s Telepharmacy Center. “The lack of direct engagement is what led to a lot of the poor outcomes Wards 7 and 8 saw over the pandemic. Frontline workers naturally know that a connection is important and know how to inform them.”
PHIT4DC aims to get students from the city's Wards 7 and 8, who will focus training on patients and residents in that area. They will train healthcare providers to understand patients’ lived experiences and help people navigate healthcare information systems, Awuonda said.
“When we’re talking about our communities in D.C., especially our underrepresented communities, we know that we need people we can trust,” said Charletta Washington, PHIT4DC program director at UDC. “So, if and when the next public health emergency comes along, we know that we have a workforce that’s ready to engage the communities that are sometimes left out of the conversation.”