Oakton Community College in Des Plaines is once again responding to the call for the need for trained workers to limit the spread of COVID-19 by launching the public health contact tracer certificate program. The program will quickly prepare students to monitor the contacts of infected people and notify them of their exposure. Courses start Oct. 20.
Oakton is the first community college in Illinois to offer a credit-based program in this field.
The Centers for Disease Control indicates contact tracing is key to slowing or stopping the spread of COVID-19. The practice is credited for helping to end previous pandemics including the SARS and Ebola outbreaks.
This innovative 13-credit hour certificate program prepares students to identify, interview and provide instructions to individuals impacted by COVID-19. In addition, the program will offer training to link individuals with symptoms to community resources for testing and care. Students will acquire skills in communication, counseling/interviewing and foundational knowledge for implementing contact tracing tools and systems.
All courses in the program can be completed online and include: Introduction to Public Health Contact Tracing, Public Health and Disease, Introduction to Public Health Communications, Disease Tracing Organization and Management, Counseling and Interviewing, Electronic Spreadsheeting Using Excel, and Database Applications Using Access.
Public health departments nationwide, according to a recent NPR state survey and tracking effort, now employ an estimated 37,000 contact tracers. However, researchers estimate a minimum of 100,000 additional contact tracers are needed.
“Oakton is proud to be at the forefront of innovation by offering a certificate program to assist in ending a global health crisis,” Maribel Alimboyoguen, assistant dean of health careers, said.
According to Indeed.com, contact tracers around the nation earn an average of $20.83 per hour, with some jobs paying more than $25 per hour.
In May 2020, Oakton launched a Public Health Contact Tracer Paraprofessional training program as a noncredit Continuing Education, Training and Workforce Development course. While the college is currently not accepting applicants for this noncredit course, those who completed the course can apply credit toward the new certificate.
New students can complete the general admission application to begin the enrollment process. For information, contact [email protected] or call (847) 376-7616.