Community health workers work all around the world in settings as diverse as inner-city hospitals to rural farmlands. They might specialize in one narrow area, such as encouraging more women to receive breast cancer screenings. Or they could be generalists who address anything from connecting someone to low-cost transportation while coaching them on how to get more exercise. At their core, CHWs work to improve patient outcomes and show their communities how to thrive within their circumstances.
Settings Where CHWs Work
CHWs work in many different settings and with various populations. CHWs commonly work in such settings as:
Community-based organizations: These include non-profit or community-based organizations. They commonly provide health education, perform outreach, and lend support to people in their communities.
Healthcare facilities: More and more often, CHWs work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. They are there to give support and education to clients and patients. They focus on people who are underserved or have limited access to healthcare.
Public health departments: CHWs also work for local or state health departments. They provide some of the same duties as listed above, including providing health education, outreach and support.
Faith-based organizations: Many faith-based organizations employ CHWs to reach out to and work directly with their congregation and local communities.
The one thing all CHWs have in common is a dedication to the communities they serve and making life better for the people in them.
We at CHWTraining love all CHWs everywhere for the work they do to improve patient outcomes. So we decided to feature the personal stories of a few CHWs. And if you’re thinking of recruiting some for your team, or you’re wondering how they might fit into your community, their stories can be your guide.
Let’s meet some CHWs and learn about the work they do.
Sabine Diasonama, Maine
My name is Sabine Alexandra T. Kangombe and I’m a CHW with Main Access Immigrant Network (MAIN) a non-profit community-based organization since 2016 to this day.
I’m originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and speak French, Lingala, Swahili and English. I work with the French/Lingala/Swahili community. [They are] mostly asylum seekers.
[I work] helping them resettle in greater Portland Maine and as a bridge between them and different providers as well as providing them education on different things from public health to healthcare system in the US to housing to immigration.
Read more about why CHWs should focus on community outreach skills.
Meet Three CHWs Improving Patient Outcomes in the US
Roxana Lopez, Texas
I work as a boots-on-the-ground CHW for a FQHC (federally qualified health center) clinic, where I help with self-management of chronic diseases, assessing SDoH (social determinants of health), and assisting caseload with anything they need.
I work with all chronic diseases and different socioeconomic statuses.
I volunteer for a local CHW board as chair; a state association as president; the Hub City Outreach Center board of directors (BOD) as chair, which they help with youth substance use prevention and intervention; and on the board for NAMI Lubbock for mental health services. I have been on a founding board in Lubbock for human trafficking as well.
I believe we cannot do better if we don’t know any better. [We need] education on what needs to be done to break down barriers, as well as statistics.
As chair of TAPCHW (Texas Association of Promotores & Community Health Workers) I strive to collaborate with agencies of all over. Currently this includes the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, Texas Healthy at Home, and many more.
Read about chronic illness education and other skills CHWs can learn at home.
Tasha Whitaker, Texas
My journey wasn’t really “on purpose”; it just happened. My title when I was hired was community health educator. Once I started working, my employer gave me the opportunity to get certified as a community health worker.
I love educating people about health and chronic diseases. I enjoy being able to break down complicated and complex information to people who may be struggling with turning their health around. It’s rewarding to see patients change their behavior and see many of them push through barriers to reach their goal.
There was a patient I worked with in a pre-diabetes management class, and she was a bus driver. She was in the program to try and reduce her risk for getting diabetes. It was difficult because the goal was to lose 7 percent of her body weight through healthy eating and exercise. She came very close. She eventually lost weight and changed the snacks and drinks she would consume as she drove the bus. That, in turn, allowed others to see her progress and get them to be interested in the program. It was a really good feeling to know that our time in class was making a difference.
Read more about CHWs working with diabetes.
Give Your CHWs the Tools To Improve Patient Outcomes in Your Community
CHWTraining’s subscription-based model offers a flexible, on-demand training program for community health workers in core skills and specialized areas like chronic conditions and tobacco cessation.
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