COCC Introduces New Community Health Certificate

Aug. 24, 2023

Central Oregon Community College’s (COCC) public health discipline will begin offering a one-year certificate in community health this fall. The program was covered in KTVZ's broadcast on Sept. 5.

Packaged as a three-term program, the certificate is intended to provide job-ready skills that are highly sought after by local employers. In addition, all community health certificate courses can be applied to the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) degree with a focus on public health.

The COCC community health certificate prepares students to work in the fields of public health, health care and community-based organizations. Community health workers provide culturally appropriate health education, connect residents with social supports and advocate for health needs. Studies have shown that their work improves health outcomes, reduces health care costs and advances health equity.

"The college's new community health certificate will bolster our region's public health workforce," says Dr. Sarah Baron, assistant professor of public health, "while helping individuals connect with meaningful careers."

As part of the curriculum and the college's public health career pathway, students will complete the training necessary to become state certified community health workers (CHW) and peer support specialists.

Community health program graduates work to reduce unequal rates of illness and death among different communities, promote wellness and advocate for health equity. Courses cover foundations of public health, sustainable development, motivational interviewing and health promotion strategies.

Students can take the classes in-person on the COCC Bend campus, with some offerings available online. There are no academic prerequisites and students need a high school diploma or GED to enroll. Registration for the new community health certificate program and all other COCC fall term classes is now open at


Students sitting in the lounge area of the Health Careers Center, underneath a sculpture of a red blood cell