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. But how does it translate for health navigators, peer educators, promotores de salud and other public health titles?
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. If your team is similar to CHWs, but not exactly CHWs, professional health training work for them likely applies to them as well. How? CHW training probably needs some tweaking, but the skills can easily transfer to the most common health worker titles you’ll find in community health programs.
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.
This means that core competency or health-specific training can work for any community health team. But you’ll likely be more successful if you have some internal flexibility to decide what is right for each employee.
CHW Core Competencies
Find out all about what the CHW Core Competencies are, CHW roles, CHW careers, how to cross-train your staff, and how to get state certifications for the CHWs on your team
Community Health Worker, health navigator, and other 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.” The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment defines health navigators as:
“a member of the health care team who helps individuals overcome barriers to quality care. They address barriers including access to health care, insurance or lack thereof, poor health literacy, transportation, child care and more.
Health navigators usually are trusted members of the community they serve and have an unusually close understanding of the community served, often due to shared lived experiences.”
You might hear — or employ — people with these titles, who have participated in courses from CHWTraining:
- Community health advisors
- Behavioral health specialists
- Case workers
- Clinical coordinators
- Community advocates
- Care coordinators
- Community health specialists
- Family navigators
- Health navigators
- Health promoters
- Community health representatives
- Lay health advisors
- Outreach specialists
- Peer educators
- Promotores(as) de salud
- Public health associates
- 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.
Community health workers or navigators 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 navigators as CHWs
Even though the community health worker job title is unique, people with different titles can do the same function. And a much wider team than just CHWs and health navigators 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 Hire great Community Health Workers
Whether you’re using the titles community health workers, health navigators, peer educators, or others, join us live on November 10 to learn all about how to find and retain the top talent for your health program.
FREE WEBINAR: How to Hire Great Community Health Workers
Everything you’ll need for a successful CHW program, from hiring your first community health worker to the best retention strategies.