National Health Corps Chicago (NHC Chicago) follows a host site model, meaning that NHC Chicago members are placed at community organizations throughout the City of Chicago, called host sites. On a day-to-day basis, members provide the service outlined in their position description, which is created by the host site. Members spend the majority of their time (approximately 40 hours/week) serving at their host site placements.
Over the course of their service term, members also participate in a variety of activities through the NHC Chicago Program, in addition to their Host Site Service, including Training and Member Development, Member Committees, Committee Sponsored Events and/or Off-site hours, Retreats, and Program Reporting and Communications.
HOST SITE SERVICE
The activities that members provide during their term of service vary depending on their specific service position. Examples of member activities include, but are not limited to: teaching health education workshops on topics such as diabetes, nutrition, and asthma; enrolling patients in health insurance and pharmacy assistance programs; promoting and coordinating health screenings and immunization campaigns; linking patients to supportive social services like transportation to overcome barriers to health care. See Position Descriptions.
MEMBER TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
A key strategy of NHC Chicago is to develop service-oriented health professionals. To do so, the program focuses on the enhancement of members’ public health knowledge and skill, professional development and life skills, and ethic of service. As such, members receive training throughout the year through both the NHC Chicago and their host sites. NHC Chicago provides training through a variety of mandatory program components:
- Pre-Service Orientation (PSO): PSO occurs in two parts within the first month of the program year. It prepares members for their AmeriCorps year of service by setting expectations for the program year and providing basic knowledge about the history of AmeriCorps and NHC and an explanation of policies and prohibited activities. It is also a time where members are introduced to basic public health principles, Chicago’s unique communities, and other professional topics that will set them up for success at their host site placement. PSO is the time when members begin to develop the friendships that will last throughout the year and beyond.
- In-Service Days: In-service days occur once a month and focus on training in public health knowledge and skills and professional and personal development. It includes member meetings that are led by the Corps Support Committee and overall provides members with the opportunity to check in with each other about their individual service experience. In-service days not only offer trainings facilitated by outside organizations as well as NHC Chicago program staff, but it also provides members with a platform to support each other through facilitated activities.
- Retreats: Chicago has two retreats during the service term- a one day retreat in January and an overnight retreat in March or April. Both serve as a time of self-care, reflection on service, and the opportunity to recharge. Retreats are also a way of further developing a team spirit.
NHC Chicago has five member committees that help organize and execute the various program components throughout the service year: Learning, Professional Development, Corps Support, Communications, and Service. Members are expected to serve on one committee during their term of service. Doing so helps them develop skills in leadership, teamwork and program planning. Committees meet a minimum of once a month.
SATURDAY SERVICE PROJECTS
Members attend at least one mandatory Saturday Service project every month, organized by the Service Committee. These service projects are usually at local organizations around the Chicagoland area, and their purpose is to build teamwork and to foster healthy communities through direct service in Chicago.
Off-site hours provide members the opportunity to independently earn up to 100 hours volunteering outside of their host site or NHC Chicago planned projects with projects/organizations that are aligned with AmeriCorps priory areas and/or to attend training and professional development opportunities are relevant to their growth as health professionals.
PROGRAM REPORTING AND COMMUNICATIONS
Members are responsible for carrying out NHC Chicago reporting duties, such as submitting timesheets. Additionally, members are able to develop their communications and social media skills through supporting NHC Chicago communications by writing blogs, developing Facebook posts, etc.