The career path as a Community Health Worker is one full of growth opportunities, hands-on experience, and human interaction. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 17% growth for CHWs by 2030.
Community health workers or promotores de salud have the chance to improve community members’ well-being every day and help them navigate the most challenging obstacles in their lives.
But that’s not all there is to it.
Aspects like bureaucracy, unclear scopes of work, and the complicated nature of health care — especially for marginalized communities — leave many aspiring CHWs feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of setting professional development and learning goals.
For everyone running and participating in a community health program, continuous education and training are key for doing the best that they can to support those who rely on your services.
Why It’s Important to Set CHW Learning Goals
You can’t measure the impact or success of a community health program without first setting clear goals that act as a starting point.
No program can run indefinitely or cover everything a community needs. There need to be specific parameters for what you’re setting out to achieve with your initiative.
Individually, community health workers need learning goals in order to channel their efforts and focus into clearly defined skills to move ahead professionally. These learning goals should be aligned with your agency’s mission so that everyone benefits.
Furthermore, learning opportunities and professional development are attractive incentives for employees — boosting retention by up to 34%.
Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goals is crucial for any program. Here’s how to do it.
5 Aspects to Consider When Setting CHW Learning Goals
What are the key areas in your community that need support?
Community Health Workers and promotores de salud work closely with underserved communities and families with little to no access to basic health care. As a CHW, you have the opportunity to address the unique challenges your community is facing and help them overcome these barriers.
When setting your CHW learning goals, keep in mind the medical conditions, the requirements, and the specific needs of those in your community, whether they include advocacy, help to navigate health insurance, transportation, or language services.
What certificates or training does your state require for CHW programs?
Not all states have legislation in place for CHW programs. But it’s important to check with your local authorities whether you need official certifications. Besides certifications, many programs require a number of supervised hours in the field. Or there could be other requirements as you start a CHW program.
What are your aspirations for the Program?
Whether you’re looking for community health workers to stay long-term or have a specific program duration in mind should dictate the type of training you plan for.
Essentially, if you’re considering a permanent initiative, it’d be worth investing in training for your staff. On the flip side, if your program is designed for a specific, time-bound initiative (like a vaccination campaign, for example), you may want to consider if the cost of providing training is worth it. Instead, hire CHWs who have more training or experience.
Additionally, be transparent with potential hires and existing staff. Many see CHW roles as stepping stones to other healthcare professions, but that’s not the case across the board. So it pays to ask, where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? Will you continue to work as a CHW or are you planning on a career move in the future? After all, training is an investment.
How are you going to measure your CHW learning goals?
Once you’ve more or less defined the scope of your program, it’s time to clearly outline your goals and create an action plan.
For goal setting, you can use a system like SMART goals, which we touched on early on.
An example of a SMART CHW learning goal is: Contact my local authority to request the certification requirements before registration for the Core Competencies course closes for this quarter.
What support systems do you have in place?
Working in the field can be extremely rewarding. Still, you’ll likely face many challenges running a community health program. You’ll witness struggle firsthand, and navigate bureaucracy and injustice every day.
Developing healthy habits and a strong support system is key to protecting your team’s well-being and developing a sustainable program. Clear boundaries are also a must-have for a successful workforce.
Learning Goals Are Crucial for Any Community Health Initiative
It doesn’t matter how big your team is or what the scope of the project is like. Clearly defined goals work as a North Star to guide your professional development efforts. They allow you to make the best of your resources and achieve the results your community so desperately needs.
Are you in search of a professional development program for your community health initiative? CHWTraining creates online courses for community health workers, promotores de salud, peer educators, and other similar titles. Book a consultation now to learn more about what we can do for you.
Set CHW Learning Goals
Hone in on the skills your team needs for a successful community health program and make an action plan with this guide.