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5 Reasons to Cross-Train Your Healthcare Team as CHWs

Cross-training is a way to muscle up your healthcare organizations. It’s a technique often used to increase capacity among various nonclinical workers.

Using cross-training on an entire healthcare team on the core competencies of health promoters like community health workers (CHWs) and promotores can strengthen teams, improve client and patient care, and increase team efficiency.

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What Is Cross-Training?

Cross-training is a method of spreading knowledge among a team by creating a baseline education among all team members. In casual circumstances, it might be as simple as an employee coaching others on their daily responsibilities during a lunch break or a more in-depth program to cross-train staff in primary care.

But it can also be a wider and more impactful program in healthcare agencies of all employees are cross-trained as CHWs. Most CHW training programs are accessible, easy to integrate with existing schedules, and applicable to anyone on a health staff.

The practice helps boost cohesion in the workplace because everyone understands what the CHW does and can immediately apply those skills to their day-to-day jobs. If you’re new to building an online training program for healthcare, start with learning about these benefits.

5 Benefits of Cross-Training Your Team as CHWs

  1. Excellent return on investment
  2. Promotes respect for CHWs
  3. Increases everyone’s knowledge
  4. Better team efficiency and collaboration
  5. Builds pathways for promotions and responsibilities

Excellent Return on Investment

CHWs are proven to improve health outcomes and lower costs for patients and health systems, so just imagine what could happen if you applied those skills to your entire team. Suddenly, everyone understands how to promote healthier eating for managing diabetes or navigating health insurance in simple terms or connecting patients and clients to the best specialist in your network or community.

The benefits to clients expand exponentially because they’re being supported at all touch points. Your agency is working together better and maximizing its budget.

Plus, you never have to hire a temp agency again. If your CHW needs to take time off, anyone can step in. This means that your CHWs can take off a year, a month, a vacation or even an hour for lunch. A nurse, a receptionist, an MA, a physician, a volunteer–anyone is able to answer calls, schedule appointments, connect to others. This means patients are happier and better looked after too.

Promotes Respect for CHWs

CHWs are in an awkward place in many healthcare agencies. They’re more focused on saving costs than earning money. So in a health center, for example, administrators are sometimes happier to support high earners like orthopedic surgeons than a CHW or promotora who’s trying to prevent someone coming into the hospital in the first place.

Cross-training a healthcare team can demonstrate the important and unique role of a CHW. This builds respect and understanding among the whole team. Finally, everyone else can understand what a CHW does.

 

Increases Everyone’s Knowledge

Healthcare specialists are important. All agencies need expert RNs and dietitians. But they also need expert RNs and dietitians that can motivate for change and know who to contact for Spanish interpretation in your agency.

Cross-training means your staff can support clients and patients at any stage of their wellbeing—especially if that person has complex healthcare needs. Anyone has the knowledge to help people with various diseases and conditions in different areas they might not be familiar with. Cross-trained staff are more comfortable and sensitive when supporting these clients and patients.

Better Team Efficiency and Collaboration

If a multidisciplinary team knows what the other members do, they can better communicate, coordinate job functions and patient care, and understand each other more clearly. Whenever people work together closely, they can offer suggestions for improvement and share their personal expertise.

This means that CHWs that are integrated into care teams can also understand workflows and the needs of other team members faster and intuitively. The upshot is teams get along better and need to do less explaining. This creates a more supportive environment for patients and CHWs.

Builds Pathways for Promotions and Responsibilities

CHWs who learn about others’ jobs become better at their own, and they’re also in a better position for promotion. When you cross-train healthcare employees to be CHWs, you open up the opportunity for CHWs to know more about how the rest of the care team works. They can then build other skills that can take them on to jobs with greater responsibility and breadth. This makes for happier, self-motivated employees all around.

The 27 New Skills You Can Now Learn on CHWTraining

This year, more community‐based organizations, hospitals and health systems than ever hired new community health workers (CHWs). CHWs are undeniably a benefit to the health workforce, but many employers are struggling to adequate train their new CHWs, lay health worker, community health advocate, and promotores.

Enhancing this workforce’s core competencies is fast and accessible with the dozens of new online training modules from CHWTraining.

Each month we add to our growing course library dedicated to population health. This quarter we added 10 new or updated courses covering everything from basic core skills to health literacy to a host of self-guided titles in Spanish. Many more modules are headed for release in early 2019.

The new courses now available on CHWTraining are:

Core Skills

Advocacy Skills and Habilidades de abogacia (Advocacy Skills in Spanish)

The Advocacy Skills course, available in both English and Spanish, cover essentials of public advocacy, such as pushing for policy development and policy change. It also covers communication skills, which learners can use to speak up for individuals and communities, be a health advocate for their clients and encourage people to be their own advocate.

Communication Skills

Participants in this course learn how to use language confidently and in ways that motivate their clients and patients to change. With an emphasis on communicating following Plain Language guidelines, it shows learners basic skills such as using empathy, active listening, and creating clear health education materials so they can improve the community where they work.

Motivational Interviewing: Peer Support for Behavioral Change and Entrenamiento de la salud y la entrevistas motivacionales (Motivational Interviewing in Spanish)

The new Motivational Interviewing course (both in Spanish and English) provides a solid introduction to interviewing techniques for further exploration. This course offers plenty of practice and reflection on techniques such as OARS, as well as modeling through video, audio and case studies.

Chronic Illness

Asma: cuidados y autocontrol (Improving Asthma Outcomes in Spanish)

Our popular Improving Asthma Outcomes course has now been updated for Spanish-speaking audiences. It covers how asthma works and what to do in case of an asthma emergency. It focuses on conducting home visits and how to guide patients and their families through making easy changes that will help them manage asthma better.

Presión arterial alta (Hipertensión) [High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) in Spanish]

Heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of death in the US, and many of the fatalities are among Latinos. This course on hypertension has been linguistically and culturally translated for reaching all populations, with an emphasis on Latino health.

Healthy Living

Behavioral Healthcare

More people have behavioral health problems than are being treated for them. This course addresses how to support people with mental health and substance use issues. This course has been completely revamped to include the most common behavioral health issues.

Depression and Anxiety: Helping Others Cope

Most people can overcome problems caused by depression and anxiety with the proper support. This course introduces learners to fundamentals of what depression and anxiety are so they can help those who suffer cope.

Substance Use

The Substance Use module provides critical training to meet the nation’s need for substance misuse, including opioids, tobacco, alcohol and other substances. Learners discover strategies for helping clients avoid and deal with addiction.

Asistencia para dejar el tabaco (Supporting Tobacco Cessation in Spanish)

This course introduces your team-members to the basics of tobacco use as well as counseling techniques that front-line health workers can use to support individuals in different stages of cessation. Updated and translated into Spanish.

Want to see what else we offer? View all of CHWTraining’s courses today.