(Cherylee Sherry and her co-workers Melinda Marsolek, Mike Zastoupil, and James Noyola, from left to right.)
COVID/MCHES® Career Profile: Health Department Principal Planner
Thousands of health education specialists are actively participating on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. At NCHEC, we want to recognize the hard work and dedication of healthcare professionals like Cherylee Sherry who are working diligently to prevent the spread of COVID.
How Health Departments are Working to Fight COVID
Cherylee Sherry, MPH, MCHES®, and Principal Planner from the Minnesota Department of Health and her team put in long hours at the Strategic National Stockpile warehouse until the National Guard was able to take over the effort. We spoke with Cherylee about her work with COVID prevention and how her MCHES® certification has prepared her to offer specialized support to her employer and community.
How has your role as a health department employee changed since COVID?
Cherylee: I am now assigned in three new areas. The first area is the Wellbeing Branch in the Partners Section of our Incident Command System (ICS). The purpose for this new branch is to develop a coordinated Minnesota Department of Health response to support the well-being of all individuals, families, and communities during the immediate COVID-19 crisis and throughout the future recovery period.
Healthcare “Pivoting” During COVID
In addition, I am now assigned to our ICS, stepping in as Planning Chief effective in June as we rotate these positions to give others some much-needed time off. Most recently, I have been added to new, vulnerable populations enhanced testing workgroup, which was quickly formed to operationalize a new direction from the Minnesota Governor’s Office to:
- test all symptomatic patients;
- conduct expanded/more aggressive testing in certain communities and settings where vulnerable populations are most at risk (Long Term Care, corrections, homeless, child care), and;
- rapidly and dramatically expand case investigation/contact tracing in response to the significant expansion in testing/anticipated positive cases.
How has health education certification helped you in your career?
Overall, these new assignments have consumed the bulk of my work time. We are identifying “lessons learned” from the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we can incorporate them into future work, grants, etc. I have had to rely on all of my Health Education Specialist Competencies, especially assessing needs and resources, planning and being an advocate for health literacy, and addressing priority populations.”
Should I pursue healthcare certification?
As COVID has shown, the need for experienced, dedicated healthcare professionals is dire if we are to combat illness, obesity, and other public health crises and concerns. Healthcare professionals like Cherylee, including those who have chosen to pursue a master’s degree in healthcare, can benefit from CHES® and MCHES® certification.
If you’re passionate about making a difference in your community and making the most of your career in healthcare, certification can provide the additional skills and training necessary for understanding the nuances of healthcare programming. A few of the skills those pursuing health education credentialing from NCHEC have the opportunity to cultivate include:
- How to determine which healthcare programs your community would most likely benefit from
- How to plan a comprehensive program, how to utilize current resources, and how to determine which resources are lacking
- How to create and manage a healthcare program
- How to communicate with members of the press regarding public and private health programs
7 AREAS OF EXPERTISE FOR CERTIFIED HEALTH EDUCATION SPECIALISTS