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An Interview with Stephanie Parr, CHES®, Community Outreach Coordinator, Stephenson Cancer Center

Stephanie ParrCHES® Career Profile: Community Outreach Coordinator

Health education specialists like CHES® and MCHES® serve our communities in various ways. Public health programs, resources, and health and wellness initiatives are often the result of the hard work of health education professionals. This includes the research, program management and implementation, patient care, and communication aspects of these programs. 

Due to their extensive knowledge of public health program management, CHES® and MCHES®, in particular, have the unique skill set required to undertake such an effort. We sat down with Stephanie Parr, a community outreach coordinator at the Stephenson Cancer Center, to learn more about how becoming a CHES® has impacted her work.


Meet Stephanie

I am the Community Outreach Coordinator for Stephenson Cancer Center (SCC). It is with great enthusiasm that I work with Robert Mannel, MD, Director of the Stephenson Cancer Center and Mark Doescher, MD, MSPH Director of Cancer Health Disparities on the National Cancer Institute Community Outreach and Engagement Core, which promotes community engagement through partnerships, advocacy, prevention and screening, and community-based research.

What does a community outreach coordinator do? 

As a community outreach coordinator, I oversee the Administrative Supplements to Cancer Center Support Grants to Strengthen NCI-Supportive Community Outreach Capacity through community health educators of the National Outreach Network. I also work closely with private foundations such as the Susan G. Komen chapters to secure funding for mobile mammography. I am also an active member of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN), the Central Oklahoma Colorectal Cancer Taskforce, the Oklahoma Comprehensive Cancer Network (OCCN) where I chair the HPV workgroup, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and the SCC Survivorship workgroup. 

How has CHES® certification been beneficial for your career,  your employer, and individuals you work with?

My experience as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) has allowed me to build the knowledge, training, and expertise necessary to successfully plan and execute a variety of evolving projects. 

READ MORE: The Value of Health Education Credentialing

I have over eight years of experience working with community partners such as the American Cancer Society (ACS), Oklahoma Hospital Association, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Oklahoma City Housing Authority, as well as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and privately owned healthcare providers in the promotion and delivery of health education. 

During my time as the Take Charge! Coordinator of Oklahoma’s Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, I maintained and expanded collaboration across chronic disease prevention and risk reduction by working with key external organizations on local, state, and national levels, as well as partnering with tribal nations to increase health system change, community linkages, and environmental change. 

I was a participant in the Oklahoma Comprehensive Cancer Network (OCCN) and served on the Health Systems Initiative work group. In addition, I was a contributing member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Leadership Team (CPCLT) where my primary focus was expanding breast and cervical screening services to eligible women, increasing patient navigation to reduce barriers to cancer screening, diagnosis, initiation of cancer treatment, and increasing HPV initiatives throughout FQHCs across Oklahoma. 

As a patient representative and vaccine specialist with the City of Austin Immunization Unit, I created and implemented new vaccine training protocols, presented vaccine storage and handling sections at quarterly immunization workshops, continuously participated in Austin Public Health outreach events, and provided education regarding vaccinations to providers. 

While working as a clinical allergy specialist at United Allergy Services, I provided and maintained services at a functioning lab including but not limited to allergy testing, making immunotherapy medications, and educating patients regarding safety practices and policies. 

I was drawn to the health education and promotion field because it is so broad and we have the opportunity to work in public and private sectors of health. 

My time with the Stephenson Cancer Center, Oklahoma State Department of Health, the City of Austin, and United Allergy Services has helped me develop unique training practices, given my experience with program management, allowed me to aid in health system change, given me opportunities to create evidence-based interventions, and allowed me to provide technical assistance for a variety of professionals.

How is your organization adapting to COVID-19?

The recent events concerning the COVID-19 pandemic have presented a significant amount of challenges for health education specialists involved in community outreach. This has led us to think of how to reach populations using alternative means such as online or social media platforms. 

CHES® Certification for Community Outreach Coordinators

Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES®) are skilled in a variety of components of public and private health education initiatives, including:

  • Research
  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation
  • Advocacy
  • Communication
  • Leadership and Management
  • Ethics and Professionalism

READ MORE: The 7 Areas of Responsibility for CHES®

Health education professionals of any variety can benefit from learning more about the planning and implementation of community health programs, while community outreach coordinators, in particular, can benefit from the communication portion of the certification process. To learn more about CHES® certification and eligibility requirements, visit our website to find resources and guides, including exam guidelines, study groups and study guides, and more.

How to Become a Health Education Specialist  → 

Posted by Jessica Wessner at 07:30

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