Professional development for community health workers (CHWs) is more useful and available than ever before. Health and community agencies are looking for ways to provide standardized and rigorous skill-building for their teams.
Teams of CHWs are growing all around the US. In fact, overall employment of health educators and community health workers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2019 to 2029.
But what if your team is similar to CHWs, but not exactly CHWs? How does professional health training work for them? Is CHW training a one-size-fits-all plan?
The short answer is probably. The long answer is, probably, but with some tweaking.
A successful CHW training strategy requires defined goals and guidelines. These come from management and from any state or employer requirements. But many healthcare workers have the same roles as community health workers with varying titles. Learn more about what it takes to train your team as CHWs here.
So applying training–core competency or health-specific–to any community health team is likely to be effective. It’ll be even more effective if you have some internal flexibility to decide what is right for each employee.
Community Health Worker Job Titles
People who work as CHWs and have a CHW certification know exactly what they do and how they’re supposed to do their job. They and their employers have a clear understanding of the best training.
But there are dozens of other job titles that also fit CHW. In fact, many surveys reveal that most people who are CHWs don’t have the official title of “community health worker.”
You might hear—or employ—people with these titles, who have participated in courses from CHWTraining:
- Behavioral health specialist
- Care coordinator
- Case worker
- Clinical coordinator
- Community advocate
- Community health advisor
- Community health representative
- Community health specialist
- Family navigator
- Health navigator
- Health promoter
- Lay health advisor
- Outreach specialist
- Peer educator
- Promotor(a) de salud
- Public health associated
- Supported living staff
And many more. You can read more about other CHW titles and roles here.
These might be official titles, but they might not. Some employees refer to themselves as a CHW or other title if it’s more common in their community.
Consider using a consistent job title of “community health worker” to clarify the position internally and in the community, if possible. And make sure to include the term “CHW” in the job description, so it’s easy to that’s what you’re looking for.
How Are CHWs Different from Other Health Workers?
Many of the titles used for CHWs are actually job functions, which causes confusion. “Health coach,” for example, can be something that many people do, from a dietitian to an RN. And even a community volunteer.
CHWs are unique because they share a life experience with the people in the communities where they work. They often live alongside their clients, or they’re closely related in another way, such as language or background.
Training Your Health Worker Staff as CHWs
Even though the job title CHW is unique, people with different titles can do the same function. And a much wider team than just CHWs and health promoters can benefit from being trained as or alongside CHWs.
Cross-training means spreading knowledge in a team by creating a baseline education among everyone. But it can also be a wider and more impactful program in healthcare agencies if all employees are cross-trained as CHWs. Most CHW training programs are accessible, easy to integrate with existing schedules, and applicable to any health staff.
Using core competency cross-training on an entire healthcare team can strengthen teams, improve client and patient care, and increase team efficiency.
How to Train Your Staff as CHWs
Jumpstart your next CHW training initiative right away. Access this informative session on how to train your staff as CHWs.