Most Popular CHW Training Courses in 2020

By Eliana Ifill

Community health programs were in a “Ready? Set? Sit still!” mode in 2020. While the need for community health workers and promotores (CHWs/Ps) was clear. However, many were sent home to wait until they could head out and help clients again. And in some cases, many more clients than the year before.

Online learning for CHWs/Ps has never been more necessary.

Working from Home

As communities still go in and out of stay-at-home orders and as health agencies and programs rush to hire more CHWs/Ps, CHWTraining has seen a dramatic uptick in people learning from home. Program managers, supervisors, and program coordinators want to make use of their staff’s time while they’re remote.

Remote learning makes sense. It’s a positive thing for health teams to do while building skills that will be useful into the future–and well into each person’s career.

CHWTraining has seen some trends—some surprising, some not—in popular courses and subject areas. Here’s a round-up of what’s been the most popular this year. We also offer what we think it says about training for public and community health teams.

Care Coordination and System Navigation

One of the most important roles of a CHW or care coordinator is to help members of the community access the care they need to sustain a healthy life. Interest in Care Coordination and System Navigation spiked last year. Partly that’s because it’s central to the core competencies of CHWs and promotores, and it also provides essential skills for working with clients who have a new set of needs in a pandemic.

Managers reported a need for skills like:

  • knowing how to navigate health insurance
  • helping service providers collaborate in supporting communities
  • developing and implementing care plans for patients, and
  • connecting patients to the resources they need.

Cultural Competency

The year 2020 was about the coronavirus pandemic, and it was also about racial equality. Many organizations looked at the gaping health inequity in healthcare and decided to do something about it. Agencies made a move toward improving their internal cultural competency and reducing unintended bias.

CHWs often work with under-served groups such as immigrant communities and diverse races. It’s important for them to understand the nuances of cultural differences and help advocate for proper care. This includes such topics as language barriers, cultural sensitivities like religious beliefs, and translating healthy behaviors into culturally appropriate equivalents. A deep understanding of health disparities is also key in the work of CHWs.

Community Outreach and Engagement

The challenges in community engagement with closures and physical distancing has caused many agencies to double-down on their outreach skills. These skills are increasingly important especially when so many men and women have been skipping their regular preventative care screenings. Now is also a good time to know more about how to provide health education about vaccinations.

Successful CHW programs need to reach the population they serve. Community outreach and engagement means bringing the programs and services to the community. It also means ensuring that people understand how the programs and services can make their lives better.

Managers were looking for ways to build strong outreach strategies in their teams. These strategies include:

  • multiple touch points such as traditional media (newspapers, TV stations, and more),
  • many more phone calls than before, and
  • online platforms such as social media.

Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women in the US, second only to skin cancer. Scientific advances in genetics and genomics have revolutionized the way breast cancer is detected and treated. It’s more important now than ever to help at-risk women–especially those who have limited access to care–to understand their risk and take steps to prevent this disease.

However, breast cancer screening tests, such as mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs, were put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some estimates report reductions in screenings of more than 90%.

In 2020, CHW program managers wanted education in how to educate women about the benefits of routine screenings. They also wanted to help clients understand when, how and what type of testing they require based on family history, medical history, age, and other determinants. A focus on accessing the care they need for successful prevention and/or treatment was in high demand.

CHWTraining Opens New Course on Breast Cancer Screening for 2020


Cervical Cancer and HPV

Screenings for cervical cancer and HPV vaccinations were also dramatically reduced in 2020. Many programs increased outreach in this area.

CHWTraining saw a jump in interest of all kinds of cervical cancer information, like symptoms, risk factors, screening tests, diagnosis, and treatment, and how CHWs can help prevent this disease.

Spreading basic information such as that cervical cancer is highly preventable in most developed nations helps. Programs also wanted to know how to reach people who live in rural areas. Likewise reaching those with a low socioeconomic background, including women of color.

CHWTraining Adds “Cervical Cancer and HPV” to its Chronic Illness Online Course Library

Behavioral Health

Mental health became a daily issue for millions in 2020 in a web of illness, unemployment, childcare, isolation and imminent health risks, food and housing insecurity, domestic abuse and more. Add daily stressors and the results are clear: Depression and anxiety are skyrocketing.

Last year was a big one for courses related to behavioral health, including depression, anxiety, substance use, and mental illness. Enrollment in courses where CHWs could learn to identify risk factors, make referrals, and provide support boomed as a valuable skill to help communities thrive in the midst of uncertainty.

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

One of the most important things CHWs can do is encourage community members to prevent disease. This can be achieved by educating peers on habits such as eating well, physical activity, preventative care, and behavioral health.

Some of the most popular courses of the year had to do with HEAL programs and other ways of Promoting Healthy Lifestyles. The focus was on giving community members could have an understanding of the concepts behind implementing positive changes and sustaining a healthy life.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects nearly a third of adults in the US. What’s worse, suffering from high blood pressure predisposes patients to stroke, heart disease, and other complications.

Knowing that people with hypertension are at a risk of a more serious outcome of COVID sent more programs to essential training in this area. Here’s a checklist of the best educational skills for a heart healthy program.

With lifestyle modifications and the right care, high blood pressure is preventable. It can even be reversed with proper care, including nutrition, adequate management with medication, and physical activity. CHWs are essential in helping patients navigate this condition to improve their health outcomes and prevent serious complications later on.

Diabetes and Prediabetes

Community health programs wanted foundational training in diabetes last year–as every year. Diabetes is a growing concern. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of people with diabetes in the US went from four million to over 29 million–a 700% increase.

Programs wanted online learning in understanding this condition and patients’ needs so they’re better equipped to help connect them to the best resources.

Like hypertension, people with diabetes are at a higher risk of poor health outcomes with the coronavirus. And many more people are at risk.

It’s common for early stages of diabetes to go undetected. But with the right help, patients can lead healthy, normal lives with this condition.

Communication Skills

Communication Skills is always one of the top courses at CHWTraining. It’s a core competency because CHWs are in contact with lots of people in different roles. Not to mention patients themselves.

It’s important to develop the right skills to effectively communicate with healthcare workers, program coordinators, insurance agents, and more. This training helps learners advocate for patients and clients to receive the assistance they need.

The most in-demand communication skills include:

  • active listening,
  • using layman’s terms (including for describing medical terms),
  • building rapport,
  • nonverbal communication,
  • resolving and avoiding conflict,
  • and being able to understand and work within culturally diverse communities.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels


Top CHW Conferences of 2021

By Eliana Ifill

At CHWTraining, we’ve compiled a list of the top CHW Conferences and Summits to attend to advance your CHW career and program for the third consecutive year.

As a result of the pandemic, many events and conferences now reside online. This helps reduce the cost of attending a conference and makes them accessible to your team no matter where you are. Read on to find the top CHW Conferences for 2021 that you can’t miss this year — and find resources and lectures from previous years’ events.

Interested in the Top CHW Conferences of 2020? Click here to find the resources. Many of 2020’s conferences were held online due to the coronavirus pandemic and are now available on-demand.

Your CHW Conference Here

If you’re hosting or participating in a CHW conference and would like to see it on this list, please contact us and send the details of the event, including the conference’s name, date, format/location, and a link to the event’s site. You can click here to get in touch.

11th Annual Kansas Community Health Promotion (Virtual) Summit

Date: January 26 & 28, 2021
Format: Online

Diverse Voices: COVID-19, Intersectionality, and the Health of Women

Date: January 27, 2021 10 am CT
Format: Online

Accelerating Health Equity  A Virtual Conference for Leaders in Community Health, Diversity and Inclusion

Date: March 16-18, 2021
Format: Online

Northwest Rural Health Conference

Date: March 22-24, 2021
Location: Spokane, WA
Registration: Those who registered in 2020 will be able to attend the 2021 conference. In 2020, the conference was postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic.

CCHF Conference

Date: March 25-27, 2021
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Registration information is yet to be made public

Indiana CHW/CRS Annual Conference

Date: April 20, 2021
Format: Hybrid (Online and in Plainfield, IN)
Registration information is yet to be made public

2021 Community Health Worker Spring Summit | Harrisburg

Date: April 29-30, 2021
Format: Online
Registration opens on March 1st




Annual Rural Health Conference

Date: May 4-7, 2021
Location: New Orleans, LA
Registration opens soon. Prices start at $423

The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+)

Date: May 13-16, 2021
Format: Online
Registration is now open

Art & Science of Health Promotion Conference

Core Conference: September 29 – October 1, 2021
Intensive Training Seminars: September 27 & 28, 2021

APHA 2021 — Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness

Date: October 23-27, 2021
Format: Hybrid
Registration information is yet to be made public

Adelante Promotores Conference, San Diego County Promotores Coalition

Date: TBD
Location: San Diego, CA

Binational Promotores Conference

Date: TBD
Location: Oakland, CA

National Promotoras Conference

Date: TBD
Location: Somerton, AZ

Technology photo created by freepik –

Download Your CHW Training Resource and Template Bundle

Make training your CHW team easier and work more effectively with these templates and resources. From building your program to free training resources, there’s something here that you can use right now.

Your bundle includes:

Build a CHW Program

  • Core competencies To Start Your CHW Program: A complete list of the basic training requirements every CHW needs for a successful career.
  • Top 5 Ways to Assess CHW Skills and Core Competencies: A mixed approach to assessing your team can give you the truest sense of how your CHWs are performing in their jobs. Learn the top 5 ways to measure your CHWs’ core skills.
  • Guide to Setting CHW Learning Goals: Define a clear career path as a Community Health Worker, promotor de salud, health aid, peer educator and more.
  • Virtual Training Planner Template: Stay on track as you develop or select virtual training materials that your learners and partners will love.
  • Set CHW training goals: Hone in on the skills you need to work as a CHW and make an action plan with this guide.

Maintain Your CHW Program

  • Heart Health Training Checklist: Essential cardiovascular health skills for your team.

Community Health Resources

  • Coronavirus for CHWs Guide: A curated and updated list of useful information for your team.
  • Improve Women’s Health Guide: Target these 10 areas to improve women’s health.

Plus, you’ll receive weekly email updates packed with more actionable training advice and community health topics. Sign up now and steer your team into a CHW career with CHWTraining.

Top 10 Articles in 2020 – Career Development, Core Competencies, Outreach Skills Roles of CHWs, and More

CHWs have the power to bring health care to underserved communities nationwide. As a CHW, your peers rely on you to get access to the help they need, the resources to improve their life quality, and the tools to improve their health outcomes.

Whether you’re looking to start your career as a CHW or are part of an established program, at CHWTraining we’ve collected readers’ favorite pieces of 2020 to help you serve your community:

Community Engagement the Right Way with Outreach Skills Improving your community’s health begins with outreach. After all, they need to know that you’re available to help. Learn the four key steps to safe community outreach – even during COVID.

3 Powerful Communication Skills That Build Rapport The main difference between a CHW and other healthcare professionals is their ability to connect with patients on a deeper level. As a CHW, you can have a positive impact on your community by establishing rapport with the help of these 3 powerful communication skills.

Top CHW Conferences of 2020 Looking to learn more about CHWs and their key role in public health? It’s not too late! Sign up for the top 2020 CHW conferences on-demand.

Roles and Responsibilities of a CHW Career [Free Event] Curious about how to start a CHW career and what it means to bring CHWs to your organization? Check out this webinar on-demand to learn exactly what it means to be a CHW (or to hire one!).

Top 5 Ways To Assess CHW Skills and Core Competencies Use this article as a resources guide to assess your new and existing CHWs and plan your CHW training in 2021.

12 Skills To Build a CHW Career Interested in becoming a CHW or planning for a long-term career in public health? Find the top health and development skills and core competencies you need to train for a successful CHW career path.

The Definitive Guide to the Coronavirus for CHWs Stay safe, learn to navigate COVID uncertainty and put your patients at ease with this comprehensive COVID guide (updated in December 2020).

Your Agency Needs Training for Food Insecurity Did you know that an estimated 1 in 9 Americans struggle with food insecurity at some point in the year? Food insecurity is one of the leading causes of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity. Learn about what food insecurity means, how COVID has made it worse, and what your agency can do to help fight it in 2021.

9 Essential Skills for a Food Insecurity Screening Program Find out what skills your team needs to help communities fight off food insecurity through the pandemic and beyond.

3 Steps To Advance a CHW Career Secure a long, successful career as a Community Health Worker or advance into other roles within the public health system with these simple steps.

Photo by Johen Redman on Unsplash