What drew you into the CHW profession?
Without knowing what the work was called, I always wanted to be a Community Health Educator. I always knew that I wanted to help people, be an educator, creative and valuable to society to help my community. I was fortunate enough to be a participant in Helping Chicago’s Westside Adults Breathe and Thrive, one of Sinai Urban Health Institute’s asthma programs. As I worked with my CHW to improve my asthma I became interested in the profession. I said to her, “I want to do what you are doing.” My CHW believed that I would be perfect for the job and mentioned it was a perfect time to apply for the position. The rest is history.
What’s your most memorable experience working as a CHW?
My most memorable experience working as a CHW would be the first time that I gave a post-test for asthma knowledge and my participant got a 100 on it. Before each answer, the participant would say, “Ms. Addy said…” There was this immense amount of pride that waved over me. I feel this way every time a participant takes a moment to reflect on what I have come to share with them to improve their health. I love helping them and really hope that the information connects with them to live a healthier life.
What is the biggest challenge in your work and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges that I have overcome in my work has been learning not to take things personally such as when a participant does not adhere to their doctor’s instructions or my advice. I take things personally because I feel a responsibility to help my participants. When my participants are unable to easily transition or change their behavior to improve their health, I would take that as a personal failure because I believed that I was connecting with them. I am still working on this and have learned to be patient and understand that everyone requires different needs to improve. Even with help and support people are not always ready to make a change, and that is why I am there to help.
Republished with the permission of the Mount Sinai Health System.