Maternal, Child & Teenage Health Specialist

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Volunteers serving as Maternal Child and Sexual Health Educators will have the opportunity to engage and train community health workers, provide behavior-change strategies to community members, and tackle pressing health needs in vulnerable populations. The most important roles of Maternal Child & Sexual Health Educators are:

1) To train and provide workshops for health care service providers (midwives, community health workers and volunteers, youth health promoters, teachers, nurses, etc.)
2) To provide health education and promote good health practices to the general population, and;
3) To form, organize and facilitate health groups (i.e. pregnant mothers groups, youth groups, parent groups, etc.).

Health Volunteers work with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, local schools, maternity homes (shelters for pregnant women from rural communities to stay in the last months of their pregnancy), and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in their municipality, to support Nicaraguans in adopting healthy behaviors that will improve their overall quality of life.

The goals and objectives of the health program in Nicaragua are:

Goal 1: To improve sexual and reproductive health
Objective 1: Teenage pregnancy prevention
Objective 2: HIV/STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) prevention
Goal 2: To improve community health
Objective 1: Improve maternal and infant health outcomes
Objective 2: Prevent transmission of mosquito borne illnesses

Health Volunteers in Nicaragua find that their most rewarding experiences are training midwives and community health workers in behavior-change interventions that aim to increase positive maternal and child health outcomes, teaching safe sex practices that prevent teen pregnancies and HIV/STI transmission, and improving the overall healthcare habits of community members. Some of the most popular projects with the Ministry of Health include working with youth to build life skills such as: Decision making, self-esteem building, goal-setting, developing assertive communication tactics and more.

By working with local project partners, Volunteers will identify issues such as disease patterns, as well as health knowledge and attitudes of the community. The preventative health activities you develop and implement will be primarily focused on increased knowledge through healthy behavior-change and non-formal education techniques.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Master of Public Health degree or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Health
• Certified Physician Assistant or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing

Desired Skills

Peace Corps/Nicaragua strongly prefers candidates that:
•possess proven abilities in public health problem-solving and preventive measures, and shows strong initiative to develop effective working relationships with those working in the health field.
•have experience and/or interest in health education or outreach; classroom or teaching experience and previous work with youth 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

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.
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).

As you will work in a Spanish-environment 24/7, you will need to possess a solid understanding of the language and adequate conversational skills. Applicants with lower levels may be accepted, but must prove their commitment to service through active study of Spanish during the application process and leading up to departure.

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 12-week Pre-Service Training.

Living Conditions

Nicaragua, hugged by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, is known as the “land of lakes and volcanoes”. As a tropical country, Nicaragua has two primary seasons: the dry season, or summer, from November to April; and the rainy season, or winter, which lasts from May through October. The country has a complex history which volunteers enjoy learning about during their 27 month homestays. The requirement to live with host families promises a rich cultural experience with full community integration, in addition to promoting a safe and productive service.

Nicaragua is predominantly rural, its countryside dotted with medium-sized cities and small agricultural communities. Health Volunteers tend to live in small to medium sized rural communities, in terrain ranging from ocean side to lush green tropical lowlands to mountainous pine forests. Populations of Health Volunteer communities range anywhere from small towns of 1,000-10,000 inhabitants or can be larger departmental capitals of 20,000-100,000 people. You will find that one the most gratifying experiences for Volunteers’ is the diversity of the country in both culture and geography. Depending on your site, you can find yourself interacting with either people of rich Caribbean heritage, others of more countryside traditional living, or of Indigenous decent.

A variety of groceries are available in larger cities and the capital, but some Entrepreneurship Education Volunteers live in smaller sites where fresh vegetables are not easy to find, and variety is very limited (usually carrots, tomatoes, onions and cabbage). Vegetarian diets can be challenging but possible, given flexibility to eating dishes that contain animal fats or broths. However, 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. Some volunteers find the diet to be very carbohydrate heavy and that most foods are cooked with more vegetable oil than they are accustomed to so they enjoying working with their host families on how to improve their nutrition through increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet.

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.

Couples Information

Nicaragua can accommodate any couple with the same combination of skills for the current openings, including cross-sector combinations. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following:

Maternal, Child & Teenager Health Educator
Maternal, Child & Teenager Health Specialist
Entrepreneurship & Business Management Educator
Entrepreneurship & Business Management Educator (teaching background)
Entrepreneurship & Business Management Specialist

During training, individuals will live apart from one another in separate host families and will most likely also be living in separate, but neighboring communities. Training sites are close and couples have opportunities to see each other 1-2 times a week and can spend most weekends together with one family or the other. Please ensure both you and your partner are truly committed to fulfill your assigned project goals during 27 months of service.

Couples will live together during the two years of service with the same host family. They may be separated for workshops and conferences for up to two weeks at a time due to in-service training events.

Medical Considerations in Nicaragua

  • Nicaragua may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: insulin-dependent diabetes; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.
  • 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 review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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