NTC Hosts 4th Annual Rural Minnesota Health Workers Community Conference
The Rural Minnesota Community Health Worker Conference at Northwest Technical College, is a conference that promotes and supports health workers and employers in the rural area and beyond by creating awareness, improve understanding and providing knowledge.
Wendy Potratz, a Community Health Worker faculty at NTC, states, “Because community health workers, their role is actually to help eliminate health disparities by addressing the social determinate of health. It’s important for the community to recognize that so we can increase the usage of that role and that more community health workers will be put to work to help improve our health outcomes.”
The conference was a full packed day starting at 9 am. It included lunch, networking opportunities a panel discussion.
“A keynote speaker, we actually have two fellows from Texas A&M, School of Public Health, who are presenting their research that they conducted partially in Bemidji. Then there’s several other presenters, some local some state presenters and then there some break out sessions in the afternoon and then finishing up with a question and answer panel,” said Potratz.
Attendees heard from several speakers and discussed topics such as growth in rural and urban America, self care and human trafficking. Speaker Suzanne Koepplinger spoke on trauma and the strategies we should be aware of.
“The title of my talk is ‘Being As Whole As We Can Be: Strategies to Manage Vicarious Trauma.’ Vicarious trauma, also known as secondary trauma, sometimes we all know it as burn out and it happens when people who are doing really tough work, their working with people who are ill, their working with people who are experiencing their own trauma, day after day after day exposure to that can really take a toll on the worker, and there are strategies that we can adopt and start to practice that can help us maintain our own health and reduce our stress load.” stated Koepplinger.
Maintaining the health care workforce is fundamental to providing access to quality healthcare in rural areas. In addition, community healthcare workers and their ability to perform plays a significant role in their performance on the job.
“I hope that people come away with the idea that in order to meet your responsibilities, in order to be the person that your family, or that your employer, or your community needs you to be, you have to be as whole as you can be. You need to be strong, healthy, you need to be grounded in your own well-being. That’s not selfish, that’s a really important tactic,” stated Koepplinger.
The conference is held annually and has been successful every year. With community awareness, want for better self-care and conferences such as this one, health care workers and employers will and can create a better version of themselves.