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Washington helps hundreds of community health workers begin new careers

Washington’s Office of Healthy Communities offers an innovative online training program for a new breed of workers that could help define the future of healthcare.

June 17, 2014 08:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time

WOBURN, MA–The Office of Healthy Communities already works with community members by funding programs that improve health, such as cancer screenings and help with substance abuse. Now the Washington Department of Health agency is offering an ambitious program to train hundreds of health workers to work closely with populations that need extra help–and save hospitals money along the way.

Its Community Health Worker Training program (http://www.doh.wa.gov/chwts) gives new or experienced community health workers the skills they need to go into neighborhoods and help people receive better healthcare. The program trains approximately 500 people a year with a flexible training program that combines traditional on-site sessions with a progressive online learning management system.

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7 Resources That Will Improve Your Training Program's Accessibility

CHWTraining’s courses are always built for standards in accessibility, but the reason we take the extra care and precautions isn’t necessarily clear to everyone. The following resources will help program directors understand what’s so important about making courses available to everyone, along with some tips to improve what you offer.

Access E-Learning

Access E-Learning is a free online tutorial from the Georgia Tech Research on Accessible Distance Education (GRADE) project at Georgia Tech. The tutorial is comprised of 10 modules that offer information, instructional techniques, and practice labs on how to make the most common needs in distance education accessible for individuals with disabilities, and enhance the usability of online materials for all students. View Access E-Learning >>

Resources for Accessible eLearning for People Who are Blind

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Case Study: CHW Success with Blended Learning

The Office of Healthy Communities at the Washington Department of Health’s high aspirations: train 500 health workers per year.

In the fall of 2012, the Office of Healthy Communities at the Washington Department of Health began an enormous task. The aim was to build a program that would be able to train 500 community health workers (CHWs) around the state. Participants would be able to apply new skills while they were working and without major disruption to their jobs.

Two years on, the program has become a resounding success.

Washington stands out from other CHW training programs in both its capacity to train workers and also in its catalog of courses, which features a cornerstone core skills program and also several skill-building courses in disease prevention and screening. The blended learning program is comprised of both in-person sessions and online lessons. Together, the program saves money and appeals to the state’s wide population of health workers.

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Assess These 3 Important Areas of a Health Worker Training Program

A needs analysis, or assessment, is an important first step in creating a health worker online training initiative. Establishing what stakeholders need from a program, and what your trainees need to learn, will help you create a program that has a greater chance of success.

But too many people either skip the step of creating a needs assessment, or they make mistakes. If a training needs assessment is messy, it could set the tone for your entire program, and could leave unsatisfied health workers or wasted funds.

One common mistake is looking too narrowly at your organization when documenting needs. For example, some administrators know they need to address a knowledge gap because of new cancer screening guidelines. But they forget to consider if their in-person training staff is qualified to handle online discussions. They assume that uploading a PDF toolkit to a website will be enough to everyone. Looking at only one piece of the puzzle will solve exactly one piece.

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