The skills of community health workers (CHWs) are clear, but what’s less clear is a job description to describe one.
The issue is that there is no one real definition of a CHW. What one CHW at one organization does could be similar to but quite different from what one does at another organization.
Small differences in titles, workplaces, and even billing codes for the work a CHW does can really affect the job description. If you’re charged with attracting applicants for a new job opening for a CHW, that can make the task a challenge.
Part of the confusion lies in the title “CHW.” Someone in almost the same role may be called a community health representative (CHR), promotora de salud, community health aide, peer educator, or other. Read more about other titles here.
Where the potential CHW works will also affect the job description. They might work for local or state health departments or districts. They might work for community- or faith-based agencies. Others might work in clinics, health centers and hospitals.
And you might have a particular project that you want the CHW to work on. For example, you might be looking to reduce ER admissions or increase COVID-19 vaccinations in your area. Those factors will affect your job description too.
Given all these factors, it’s still possible to write a CHW job description that will attract the right kind of applicants for your employer. Read on for tips and best practices that you can use to draw candidates and excite them about the hope of working for your agency.
If you’re seeking the right candidates to fill your agency’s openings, this guide is your key to success.
Read on for tips and best practices that will not only attract candidates but also ignite their enthusiasm to join your mission.
We’ve broken this guide into sections that will make it easy to skip to places you might be most interested in:
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CHW Job Description
Start out by providing a backgrounder on you and your agency so prospects know what to expect. This section calls for a little showmanship, so keep it lively and expressive. Remember that most CHWs choose that job because they feel passionate about helping others, so convey how your agency has that same passion.
Many organizations skip this, but it really helps make a good match between you and your staff. It also ensures that the job remains in line with your goals and mission.
Here’s an example for a Field Research Representative from the Department of Family Medicine of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. They keep it short and sweet. Notice how the goals of the department are clearly defined.
Next, provide a summary of the position in general. In about a paragraph, describe what the person will be doing. Include a description of how that job fits in with your agency and the others who work there.
It might help to take a closer look at what a CHW does in closer detail, so you can include that as part of your overview. You can read more in-depth about what a CHW does here.
CHWs are frontline healthcare workers who help members of marginalized or underserved communities access the healthcare they need.
In short, a CHW is someone who helps patients, neighbors, and clients lead a healthier lifestyle. They provide basic education by answer questions about healthy lifestyles and chronic illness. They work with healthcare and community agencies to connect patients and clients with providers, nurses, insurance information, and other resources to manage and improve their health.
CHWs usually come from the communities where they work, so they can build rapport with clients in a unique way.
Hui Malama Ola Na ‘Oiwi’s advertisement for a Community Health Worker-Puna contains a perfect example of a job summary:
The responsibilities section in your job description should be succinct and clearly demonstrate what the CHW will be doing at your agency. It can be tempting to include an exhaustive laundry list of every job duty the candidate will have. But remember that it’s difficult to read long lists of bullet points, which could make prospective employees tune out before they’ve considered the most essential parts of the job.
Our guide to CHW roles includes a list of responsibilities you can use as a starting point.
The Community Health Worker job post from Five Rivers Health Centers is a great example. They’ve summarized the job into a “General Responsibilities” section that hits the highlights.
Training & Qualifications
Specifics are important when listing out training and qualifications in your job description. Being clear about what kinds of training and qualifications you require will help candidates understand if they can apply.
You might begin with requiring training in CHW core competencies: Advocacy Skills; Community Outreach and Engagement; Communication Skills; Promoting Healthy Lifestyles/Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL); Cultural Competence and Responsiveness; Service Coordination Skills; Individual and Assessment Skills; Health Insurance Basics; Teaching Skills; Organizational Skills; Community Capacity Building; Professional Conduct and Interpersonal Skills; Public Health Basics.
Depending on the clients your CHW works with, you should also include other qualifications, such as CPR and first aid, or a diver’s license.
The Community Health Worker job post from Grande Ronde Hospital is a good example of specific qualifications.
They even include a subset of “Essential Job Requirements.”
Sometimes skills are grouped in with requirements in your job description. But it makes sense to break them out into their own section. This way, you can explore skills that aren’t covered by requirements such as CHW certification, such as soft skills or other skills that are unique to your agency.
Novant Health’s post for Community Health Worker I has a mix of some hard skills, such as Motivational Interviewing, and also soft skills, such as “Must be able to work with changing priorities.”
Next, read about gaining essential skills to build a CHW career.