Community Health Specialist
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1) Train service providers;
2) Direct education to the general population; and
3) Facilitate and organize health groups (i.e. mothers' groups and adolescent groups).
Upon arrival at your project site, you will conduct a health survey directed at evaluating the health problems that you will address during your two years of service. The community and your project partner(s) will assist you with this survey to identify issues such as disease patterns, health knowledge and attitudes around it, and general priorities. The preventative health activities that you develop and implement will be primarily focused on increased knowledge and healthy behavior change.
Through health education and promotion, we aim to reach the following three goals:
Goal 1: HIV/STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Prevention
Goal 2: Teenage Pregnancy Prevention
Goal 3: Improved Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes
Volunteers will train service providers (informally trained midwives, community health workers, Ministry of Health staff, teachers, and NGO staff) and community members, including key and vulnerable populations, through the use of behavior change interventions and non-formal education techniques. Topics include:
•HIV/STI transmission, prevention, testing and counseling, as well as the reduction of stigma and discrimination to promote awareness and reduce negative judgment towards those living with HIV.
•Family planning, signs and symptoms indicating the need to seek immediate care during pregnancy and labor, care for the newborn, exclusive breastfeeding, and best feeding practices for children under five years old.
•Sexual and reproductive health, self-esteem, communication, gender, decision-making, reproductive health, contraception, and condom negotiation for teen groups.
• Master of Public Health degree or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Health
• Certified Physician's Assistant or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing
•possess proven abilities in public health problem-solving and developing strong relationships with those working in the health field.
•have experience and/or interest in health education or outreach; classroom or teaching experience is a plus.
•have demonstrated community involvement in planning, organizing, counseling or leadership within the past four years and strongly prefers those who possess an ability to form, motivate, and facilitate groups.
Required Language Skills
A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish
Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).
Additional Language Information
Competitive candidates will have conversational Spanish language skills. To apply to serve as a Volunteer in Nicaragua, you are required to have some basic level of Spanish prior to arrival in country. Intermediate to advanced speakers of Spanish are preferred; however, applicants with lower levels who are actively engaged in Spanish language learning may be accepted.
All of your work as a Volunteer will be conducted in Spanish, and you will communicate with your host family, fellow community members, and government and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) representatives in Spanish; therefore, all Volunteers must demonstrate at least intermediate-mid level written and oral proficiency in Spanish prior to the completion of the 13-week Pre-Service Training.
We can accommodate couples whereby both partners work in the Health program or the Entrepreneurship Education program, or one in each program. All couples (even those serving in the same program) will be separated during Pre-Service Training to aid in language and cultural acquisition. While couples will be living in different training towns for this 13 week period, there will be many opportunities to spend time together.
Nicaragua is predominantly rural, and its countryside is dotted with medium-sized cities (5,000-25,000 people) and small agricultural communities (50-200 families). Sites size can vary from small towns of 1,000 to 10,000 inhabitants, to larger municipalities or departmental capitals. As a tropical country, Nicaragua has two primary seasons: the dry season, or summer, from November to April; and the winter rainy season, which lasts from May through October. Sites vary topographically from the tropical lowlands of Río San Juan to the mountainous pine forests of Nueva Segovia.
Sites vary in size and can range from department capitals to smaller rural villages. While a wide variety of groceries are available in larger cities and the capital, some Health Volunteers live in smaller sites with limited options. In these smaller towns, fresh vegetables are not easy to find and variety is very limited (usually carrots, tomatoes, onions and cabbage). A vegetarian diet is challenging because people may be unfamiliar with vegetarianism and use animal fats or broths in their daily cooking. A strict vegan diet is extremely challenging and will require time and monetary sacrifices and compromises. However, on the whole, Volunteers find that the Nicaraguan staple foods of gallo pinto (red beans and rice), corn tortillas, bread, freshly made cheeses, and widely available seasonal tropical fruits provide a great dietary base. Volunteers find that the Nicaraguan diet is more carbohydrate heavy, and that most foods are cooked with more vegetable oil than they are accustomed to. Many enjoy working with their host families to better their nutrition through increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet.
Personal Appearance is important to people in Nicaragua. During pre-service training, the dress code is business casual. Following pre-service training, you will need to dress appropriately for work situations in your community. It is advised to take cues from your Nicaraguan colleagues, and dress to their standards of professionalism. Most female volunteers wear blouses or button up shirts with nice slacks or skirts and dresses that go past the knee. Male volunteers typically wear polo and button up shirts and are expected to keep their hair short and facial hair trimmed and neat.
Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos may need strategies to conceal them. In Nicaragua, tattoos may be associated with criminal activity. Likewise, having visible body piercings or tattoos may make it more difficult to integrate into your host community. Keep in mind that Peace Corps/Nicaragua staff expect you to be flexible with regard to personal appearance to facilitate integration in training and during your service.
While Nicaragua is generally tolerant, and the PC/Nicaragua office is an open, non-judgmental place for all Volunteers, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training, as well as provide support mechanisms for incoming trainees.
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Nicaragua: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Medical Considerations in Nicaragua
- Nicaragua may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: insulin-dependent diabetes; ongoing behavioral health support.
- The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
- Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
- After arrival in Nicaragua, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.
Before you apply, please also review Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.
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