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Download Your CHW Training Resource and Template Bundle

Make training your CHW team easier and work more effectively with these templates and resources. From building your program to free training resources, there’s something here that you can use right now.

Your bundle includes:

Build a CHW Program

  • Core competencies To Start Your CHW Program: A complete list of the basic training requirements every CHW needs for a successful career.
  • Top 5 Ways to Assess CHW Skills and Core Competencies: A mixed approach to assessing your team can give you the truest sense of how your CHWs are performing in their jobs. Learn the top 5 ways to measure your CHWs’ core skills.
  • Guide to Setting CHW Learning Goals: Define a clear career path as a Community Health Worker, promotor de salud, health aid, peer educator and more.
  • Virtual Training Planner Template: Stay on track as you develop or select virtual training materials that your learners and partners will love.
  • Set CHW training goals: Hone in on the skills you need to work as a CHW and make an action plan with this guide.

Maintain Your CHW Program

  • Heart Health Training Checklist: Essential cardiovascular health skills for your team.

Community Health Resources

  • Coronavirus for CHWs Guide: A curated and updated list of useful information for your team.
  • Improve Women’s Health Guide: Target these 10 areas to improve women’s health.

Plus, you’ll receive weekly email updates packed with more actionable training advice and community health topics. Sign up now and steer your team into a CHW career with CHWTraining.

Top 10 Articles in 2020 – Career Development, Core Competencies, Outreach Skills Roles of CHWs, and More

CHWs have the power to bring health care to underserved communities nationwide. As a CHW, your peers rely on you to get access to the help they need, the resources to improve their life quality, and the tools to improve their health outcomes.

Whether you’re looking to start your career as a CHW or are part of an established program, at CHWTraining we’ve collected readers’ favorite pieces of 2020 to help you serve your community:

Community Engagement the Right Way with Outreach Skills Improving your community’s health begins with outreach. After all, they need to know that you’re available to help. Learn the four key steps to safe community outreach – even during COVID.

3 Powerful Communication Skills That Build Rapport The main difference between a CHW and other healthcare professionals is their ability to connect with patients on a deeper level. As a CHW, you can have a positive impact on your community by establishing rapport with the help of these 3 powerful communication skills.

Top CHW Conferences of 2020 Looking to learn more about CHWs and their key role in public health? It’s not too late! Sign up for the top 2020 CHW conferences on-demand.

Roles and Responsibilities of a CHW Career [Free Event] Curious about how to start a CHW career and what it means to bring CHWs to your organization? Check out this webinar on-demand to learn exactly what it means to be a CHW (or to hire one!).

Top 5 Ways To Assess CHW Skills and Core Competencies Use this article as a resources guide to assess your new and existing CHWs and plan your CHW training in 2021.

12 Skills To Build a CHW Career Interested in becoming a CHW or planning for a long-term career in public health? Find the top health and development skills and core competencies you need to train for a successful CHW career path.

The Definitive Guide to the Coronavirus for CHWs Stay safe, learn to navigate COVID uncertainty and put your patients at ease with this comprehensive COVID guide (updated in December 2020).

Your Agency Needs Training for Food Insecurity Did you know that an estimated 1 in 9 Americans struggle with food insecurity at some point in the year? Food insecurity is one of the leading causes of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity. Learn about what food insecurity means, how COVID has made it worse, and what your agency can do to help fight it in 2021.

9 Essential Skills for a Food Insecurity Screening Program Find out what skills your team needs to help communities fight off food insecurity through the pandemic and beyond.

3 Steps To Advance a CHW Career Secure a long, successful career as a Community Health Worker or advance into other roles within the public health system with these simple steps.

Photo by Johen Redman on Unsplash

 

Community Health Worker Career Paths: How to Hire and Support Your Team

As your team of community health workers (CHWs) scales, it’s important to understand how the field will grow into the future so you can create a community health worker career path for your staff.

The CHW job title is relatively new in the US compared with other job titles, such as care coordinators, case managers, or even promotores. A clear career ladder can be hard to see with new job positions like this. Plus, the CHW job has a high burnout rate, so many people who have been working in the job opt to move into a less demanding position, sometimes in healthcare and sometimes not.

Read Now: CHW Training – Building a Career Path [Resource Guide]

CHWs will move on to new positions, some will get promoted into new jobs, and new people will want to enter the field and join your team. It’s helpful for agencies like yours to understand where and how to recruit or train for community health services careers. It’s also important to know how to encourage career growth along a rewarding path for employees who are more experienced in the field.

As need for this role keeps growing, CHWs can not only increase the health knowledge of their community members but also increase their own reach to more people and other job opportunities.

CHW Core Competencies Resource Guide

Creating a CHW Career Foundation

CHWs, as those in any field, need certain background experiences, skills, and knowledge to be successful. Some of these are soft skills that make a person well-suited to the job and some are hard skills that are part of a CHW core competencies program.

These are some of the skills you might review as a hiring managers or CHW supervisor:

Soft Skills for Community Health Workers

  • Being friendly and open
  • Having empathy
  • Active-listening skills
  • Respect and non-judgmental attitudes
  • Good verbal communication
  • Sensitive to challenging experiences

Hard Skills (Core Competencies) for Community Health Workers

  • Advocacy Skills/Capacity Building Skills
  • Care Coordination or Service Coordination and System Navigation
  • Communication Skills
  • Cultural Humility/Cultural Responsiveness
  • Education and Facilitation Skills
  • Evaluation and Research
  • Experience and Knowledge Base
  • Individual and Community Assessment and Direct Services
  • Interpersonal and Relationship-Building Skills
  • Outreach Skills, Methods and Strategies
  • Professional Skills and Conduct

CHWs are employed in every state of the US (except South Dakota, for which no data is available), according to the BLS. Each state has independent job requirements, which vary from college degrees that take multiple years to complete to on-the-job training. Some states require certification, and some employers require certificates of completion to show completed training requirements. You can read more about requirements where you are to get a feel for how these core competencies change.

Some people favor jobs more because of their personal attributes. Others look for ways to gather core skills and then build on to them to earn a professional specialty. Managers like you should think about who the individual is and what their tendency is when you’re hiring and creating a career path at your agency.

Below, read some CHW job progressions, specific roles, responsibilities, and it all fits into a CHW career path.

How Can You Provide a CHW Career Path?

Creating a career path for your CHWs helps you recruit qualified workers and also helps you hold on to them when they decide they’d like to expand from their entry role. This will prevent them from being hired away by a new organization or out of your department.

One of the best ways that you can grow your career in customer service is by understanding the different roles that are out there and developing skills that align with them. Here’s an example of the most common positions you’ll find along a customer service role progression:

CHW Career Growth
Community Health Worker Career Path

 

Entry-Level: CHW, Promotores, or CHRs

CHWs are on the front line, working directly with clients or patients and responding to their needs. Training requirements depend on individual employers and state requirements, but it usually takes around two years to be a certified CHW.

A person’s decision to stay in a CHW role doesn’t need to be short-term. You can encourage your CHWs to enter as a CHW and stay a CHW for many years. Make sure stakeholders have adequate funding that builds a long-lasting program.

Why might CHWs decide to stay a CHW?

  • They have meaningful relationships with their clients
  • They’ve invested in and developed a deep understanding of the community and resources
  • They’re included in programs that they help build, launch and maintain
  • You offer recognition for achievements
  • You supply bonuses and pay increases to make sure CHWs feel rewarded.

Mid-Level: Health Advocates, Care Coordinators, CNAs, Health Educators

The next step require some specialization or extra training. They still work one-on-one with clients and patients, but they may have some additional subject-matter expertise that helps them handle more specific patient requirements or work in more clinical settings.

CHWs can move into a role with more specialization. Health advocates, care coordinators, case managers and CNAs who’ve been trained as CHWs work better with an organization and patients to find and deliver care.

Managerial: CHW Supervisors, Managers, Social Workers, Nurses

These mid-level or managerial positions serve as team leads in an agency. They supervise CHWs as well as work with their own clients or patients. However, more of their working day is put toward administration and working with a larger multi-disciplinary team.

Some CHWs will take a job with more leadership potential where they offer training, mentorship, and advice to their peers. A pathway might look like this:

  1. Entry-level CHW: works with patients
  2. Senior CHW: works with patients, mentors new hires
  3. CHW Supervisor: works with staff, hires, works closely with partners

A CHW from there may grow to be someone with less direct content with clients and patients and more program or team management.

November is American Diabetes Month – Here Are 3 Things CHWs Can Do To Help Prevent The Disease

Nearly every day, a new study shows that healthy habits are the ticket to living longer and feeling better while you do live by avoiding diseases like diabetes. Eating well, exercising often, stopping smoking, keeping to a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol pays off.

Diabetes among your community members and patients is probably one of your biggest concerns. The burden of diabetes is staggering, and it continues to climb. The total costs of diagnosed diabetes have risen to $327 billion, when the cost was last examined, according to research from the American Diabetes Association.

The largest components of medical expenditures are:

  • hospital inpatient care (30% of the total medical cost),
  • prescription medications to treat complications of diabetes (30%),
  • anti-diabetic agents and diabetes supplies (15%), and
  • physician office visits (13%).

Diabetes affects the body’s ability to fight off infections, leading to skin conditions and other complications. Diabetes also makes circulation a challenge and takes a toll on the cardiovascular system. By now it’s also known that preexisting conditions like diabetes and hypertension increase the risk of getting infected with COVID and its severity.

With over 34 million Americans dealing with diabetes and up to 1 in 3 adults facing prediabetes, it’s clear that resources to prevent and treat this chronic disease are much needed. Community health initiatives can educate and help individuals keep diabetes at bay by promoting healthy lifestyle changes like regular exercise, a balanced diet with lots of produce, and limiting substance use, including tobacco and alcohol.

Providing this kind of diabetes education and motivating people to make lifestyle changes is exactly where community health workers (CHWs) excel. Health initiatives targeted at reducing incidence of diabetes are creating more CHW jobs, because it’s proven that CHWs help patients manage diabetes. It should be part of any CHW core competencies program.




Your program can be key in preventing diabetes and improving health outcomes for patients by training your team in outreach, peer education, and chronic disease management. The first step in training your team for diabetes interventions is identifying which skills you need to develop. From there, you can set up a training plan to best position CHWs for helping people to make changes.

The following three areas are a must for any diabetes education program:

[Add Diabetes and Prediabetes to any subscription—read more]

1. Tobacco cessation

CHWs need skills in tobacco cessation—including Motivational Interviewing—to address many health problems caused by smoking and using tobacco. Tobacco cessation skills are also critical for diabetes prevention and control programs.

Smokers are more at risk for developing type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers, and that risk goes up along with the number of cigarettes smoked. Smoking damages cells in the body by increasing inflammation and mixing chemicals in cigarettes with oxygen, called oxidative stress. Smoking can also lead to more belly fat, itself linked with diabetes.

Smokers who already have type 2 diabetes have more serious health problems. Nicotine can make insulin less effective. They’re also more likely to have heart and kidney disease, poor circulation in the legs and feet, and blindness.

2. Physical activity

Americans sit too much and exercise too little, so CHWs who know how to get people up and moving are helping prevent a host of health problems in addition to diabetes. According to studies, moving around shows immediate health benefits, including reducing anxiety, improving blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.

Read more: How I Started a Community Health Initiative and How It Can Make Your Clients Healthier

Physical activity fights diabetes on several fronts. It makes a body more sensitive to insulin and helps people lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. It also helps control blood sugar levels.

CHWs who are trained in physical activity and active living are in a better position to make recommendations to people, no matter what their barriers are (physical, geographical, financial, etc.). They can also help patients and clients set and stick to goals and maintain an activity program that works.

3. Healthy eating

Finding a healthy eating strategy is probably at the top of a diabetes prevention and control program, and it may be one of the toughest strategies for people to follow. Following a diabetes diet means eating a plant-heavy diet that’s rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. People should add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to their plates. That helps with weight loss and also controlling blood glucose.

Many people with diabetes work with a dietitian to develop a healthy eating plan, but CHWs can work with them to make food choices that work for each person’s preference, location and culture.

Training in healthy eating can also be matched with training in physical activity to offer more comprehensive support to clients.

Read more: Your Agency Needs Training for Food Insecurity

Suggested training curriculum

A comprehensive CHWtraining curriculum for a team of CHWs looking to control diabetes should start here:

  • Diabetes and Prediabetes
  • Supporting Tobacco Cessation
  • Promoting Healthy Lifestyles
  • Motivational Interviewing: Peer Support for Behavior Change

A useful expansion pack of diabetes education resources includes options for supporting clients on their journey:

  • Providing Social Support
  • Health Literacy: A Start
  • Substance Use

During National Diabetes Month, you can add Diabetes and Prediabetes to any subscription on CHWTraining. If you’re interested in building a diabetes education program for your team with these or other courses, click the button below to learn how to add certified training to your program. Our team will be in touch ASAP to schedule a time to chat.

Originally published November 15, 2019, updated November 20, 2020.

Heart Health Training Checklist: Does Your Team Have These Skills? [Checklist]

Heart disease is responsible for the most deaths of men, women, and people in most racial and ethnic groups around the US. People with heart conditions, such as hypertension or cardiovascular disease, have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

[Download Now: Heart Health Training Checklist]

Having a healthy heart is more important now than ever before. Luckily, people can protect themselves from heart disease and stroke in many ways. As a result, they can both reduce their risk and manage heart disease by making lifestyle changes like eating healthfully and staying physically active.

That’s why health promoters–such as community health workers, promotores (CHW/Ps), or similar job titles, are so important to healthcare agencies. They can use patient education and community outreach to improve health outcomes and avoid emergency rooms (ERs).

Heart Disease and Stroke Training for Community Health Teams

Training your team in heart health makes sense. CHW/Ps with the right skills can guide patients and clients toward preventing heart disease and stroke.

This means making sure your employees or volunteers are equipped to work directly with clients and patients to provide heart health education, find motivation for change, connect people with local resources and providers, and help to set, accomplish and maintain goals.

Some of these skills are covered in standard CHW core competencies training, but a more focused approach on cardiovascular health pays off.

Heart Health Checklist

 

Organizing Onboarding Programs

Every organization that serious about improving cardiovascular health in the community needs a training checklist to guide them when hiring new people. Making sure each hire has essential heart health training sets the tone their experience at your agency. Be organized about training at the beginning of the hiring process, or when educating an existing team to have community health skills. That way, your team perform better and make a bigger impact at work.

Some agencies train staff members by on-the-job training only. That process is certainly useful and should be part of a comprehensive training program. However, one-dimensional training leaves out a comprehensive foundation of knowledge.

Teams who learn the basics first can make better decisions and take smarter actions when they’re working with clients. They also stand to be better understood by a multidisciplinary team as part of a formal education plan.

Heart Health Training Checklist

 

Using a checklist makes the evaluation process simpler. So, we’ve created a Heart Health Training Checklist for you to download for free.

You can use this checklist to:

  1. Assess the skills of potential and new staff
  2. Evaluate the training needs of existing staff
  3. Help staff understand what they need to know in order to do their job
  4. Decide what training capacity you have internally vs. what you need to acquire from a vendor

When you use the checklist, add when the training was completed and also the date when training needs to be renewed—usually every year. Also include where the team member was trained and also an official sign-off, possibly by a director or HR manager. HR departments sometimes require a certificate of completion, so make sure your employee hands that over when they’re done.

Adapting Training to Various Teams

This checklist works for most teams that work in the role of a CHW. Here are some ideas for customizing it for different community-health oriented teams.

For Community Health Representative (CHR) Teams

  • Health disparities and social determinants of health
  • Basic anatomy/physiology
  • Community disease profiles
  • Emergency patient care

For Peer Support Specialists or Recovery Coaches

Add training in…

  • Behavioral health
  • Comorbidities and co-occurring conditions
  • Administering Naloxone

For Care Coordination Teams

Add training in…

  • Conducting community needs assessments
  • Documentation skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Service navigation
  • Telehealth

For Family Navigators

Add training in…

  • Conducting community needs assessments
  • Service navigation
  • Health disparities and social determinants of health

10 skills CHWs can learn right now—without leaving the couch

 

Community Health Worker Core Competencies: Level up Your Community Initiative with CHWTraining

CHWs are the frontline health workers assisting those who need it most. With effective training, your team can help bring health to underserved communities.

Individuals in underserved populations often struggle to access the medical care needed to live a long, healthy life. Issues like cultural stigma, language barriers, and bureaucracy make health care difficult or impossible to access for many marginalized communities.

Especially in remote locations or those with little to no access to healthcare, such as impoverished towns and international borders, Community Health Workers provide much-needed relief to over-burdened healthcare systems, assist in the care, and offer personal support to patients and their families as community members deal with unique health challenges.

In the US, CHWs often work with immigrant communities, women at risk of (or experiencing) abuse, families at or below the poverty line, and aging adults who require attention but not necessarily 24/7 medical assistance.

Community Health Workers Make Health Care And Disease Prevention Accessible To Communities

While CHW regulations vary across states, most programs require basic career skills and core competencies to work as a Community Health Worker, promotor de salud, or health advocate with registered organizations.

Besides hands-on experience in the field, professional CHW training is advised and should cover core competencies like:

  • Advocating for patients’ needs
  • Helping patients and families get the care they need
  • Bridging the gap between patients and their caretakers
  • Cultural nuances such as navigating language barriers and cultural stigma
  • Raising awareness about health and disease prevention
  • Identifying the needs of patients and populations
  • Assessing needs and opportunities in underserved communities
  • Engaging with individuals and organizations alike
  • Planning and implementing community events

Does your team feel prepared to take on these responsibilities?

Update Your Team’s Core Skills Training With CHWTraining’s Core CHW Competencies Course

A successful CHW program starts by ensuring your staff has a solid foundation to provide the much-needed care to patients and their loved ones. And the basic legal requirements to meet your state’s certification criteria.

Related: Curious about your state requirements? Core Competencies To Start Your CHW Program

At CHWTraining, we’re excited to announce the launch of a limited enrollment program: CHW Core Competencies, now with a Certificate of Completion.

The newly updated CHW Core Competencies course will help you shape your career, agency, and community. It covers all the basics you’ll need to promote support community members no matter where you live.

Continue your career path by following with CHW Core Competencies II. Building an effective foundation will expand your capabilities to improve health outcomes and connect clients to care.

Don’t miss out. Register now and get access to:

  • CHW Core Competencies – Foundations Curriculum (40 hours online instruction)
  • Job Growth Toolkit
    • Goal-setting worksheet
    • CHW Requirements by State
    • Professional templates (including a cover letter and resume)
  • Core Competencies Toolkit
    • Scope of Practice Template
    • Bonus case studies
    • Resources

 

 

3 Steps To Advance a CHW Career

A community health worker (CHW) job is especially rewarding and it is a critical piece of a healthcare team.

It’s also a good option for a career. There are more jobs than ever in this field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says “overall employment of health educators and community health workers is projected to grow 13% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.”

→ Enroll Now: CHW Core Competencies Online Training [Certificate]

Many CHWs use their position as a career advancement opportunity that leads to other areas of healthcare. They use a solid foundation in core skills as a stepping stone to jobs up the career ladder. You can use your experience to move into leadership roles, administrators, and more.

You’ll create your own path for advancement based on the skills you start with and where you want to go. However, here’s a rough step-by-step guide that can show you what to think about and in what order as you think about moving up the CHW career ladder.

Step 1: Attend a CHW training program

The first step is to improve that baseline education with the most essential core skills training for a CHW career. Training programs usually cover core competencies, such as communication or outreach skills. They also cover some information about health-specific topics, such as heart disease, or cultural competency. Here are the 13 most common core competencies for most employers and programs.

Step 2: Get certified

CHWs are employed in every state of the US (except South Dakota, for which no data is available), according to the BLS. Each state has independent job requirements, which vary from college degrees that take multiple years to complete to on-the-job training. Some states require certification, and some employers require certificates of completion to show successful training.

Here are some requirements from a handful of different states.

 

Step 3: Earn some on-the-job experience

CHWs almost always need to do some on-the-job training. Some programs, especially some very good state-sponsored programs, include this apprenticeship period as part of the program. Some employers provide it as part of being hired.

Step 4: Specialize

As a CHW, you can specialize in almost any area of medicine, from autism spectrum disorder to Alzheimer’s to asthma. You can work in a variety of settings, such as communities, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, doctor’s offices or schools, and each of these are in their own way a specialization.

These specializations are helpful in any CHW job, but they can also lay the groundwork to these kinds of positions:

  • Certified diabetes educator
  • Diabetes educator
  • Health educator
  • Certified drug & alcohol counselor

Step 5: Boost your training

CHWs often, but not always, need a high school diploma to get a job. If you’ve already entered a CHW job without a high school diploma or equivalent, this stage is a good time to get one.

Many CHW positions also require you to have a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential or CPR/first aid certification. If you get these, they can open many more opportunities.

Step 6: Move up into a new position

If you’ve gone through all the previous steps, you’ve already gone a long way toward your career advancement. You might already have more options and better jobs.

You might also want to think about higher level education. Being a CHW is an excellent first step to being a…

  • medical assistant
  • nurse
  • dietitian

These jobs all require an advanced degree. So explore how training you have as a CHW can lead into an associate degree. How would that associate degree lead into a bachelor’s degree? What about a foreign language skill?

Keep working, and you’ll be able to use a CHW career as a way to keep moving up the career ladder.

Smiling CHW Learner

12 Skills You Need To Build a CHW Career

Employment opportunities for community health workers (CHWs) are better than ever.  More organizations are looking for ways to include CHWs and provide more CHW core competency training for internal staff.

This has never been so true as now, while the world is fighting to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to give some relief to overtaxed health care systems. CHWs have an especially important role to play. The US Department of Homeland Security specifically called out CHWs as:

“Essential critical infrastructure workers who are imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for both public health and safety as well as community well-being.”

→ Enroll Now: CHW Core Competencies Online Training [Certificate]

This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to put themselves on a CHW career path while improving health outcomes for their community.

Careful planning of a CHW career path can allow anyone who starts with an entry-level job to expand it into a rewarding career. As need for this role keeps growing, CHWs can not only increase the health knowledge of their community members but also increase their own reach to more people and other job opportunities.

CHW Job Outlook

The statistics are inspiring. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for CHWs are expected to rise 18.1% by 2026. That means that 10,400 jobs could open up. Also, salaries for already employed CHWs are increasing. Wages are good, about $19 per hour, or $39,540 every year.

Gaining the skills to become a CHW can open the door to a money-making and secure career.

Building a CHW career path–rather than just finding an entry-level job—involves understanding the core competencies and what kinds of skills are useful for growth into the future.

In order to earn a profitable job and build a lasting career, current CHWs and people who would like to be one need to keep their health and professional skills sharp. They need to take extra training and prove their knowledge and expertise through certification.

CHWTraining’s Core Competencies Training offers complete, up-to-date training for employers who want to provide staff with foundational skills and knowledge of specific health topics, such as diabetes or breast cancer.

We created the quick guide below as a tool for employers who want to build sustainable training programs and CHWs who want to understand the job qualifications.

CHW Core Competencies

CHWs are employed in every state of the US (except South Dakota, for which no data is available), according to the BLS. Each state has independent job requirements, which vary from college degrees that take multiple years to complete to on-the-job training. Some states require certification, and some employers require certificates of completion to show successful training.

CHW jobs by state

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

However, many core competencies training requirements are similar. The following are common skills required by many programs and advisory committees. Here are some CHW core competency training areas common among the Washington State Department of Health’s CHW program, the Roles and Competencies from the Community Health Worker Core Consensus (C3) Project, the US Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. You can compare more national requirements at State Community Health Worker Models from the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) or from this guide.

12 Most Important Skills To Build a CHW Career Path

CHW Core Competency Example Skills
Advocacy Skills/Capacity Building Skills
  • empowering clients
  • motivating people to manage their own health and advocate for themselves
  • helping clients and patients set and reach their goals
  • supporting behavior change
  • identifying and overcome barriers
  • understanding community cultures and ways to reach members
Care Coordination or Service Coordination and System Navigation
  • navigating systems
  • collaborating with partners to connect clients and patients to resources
  • helping service providers work together
  • telling systems about needs of people
  • helping to develop and implement care plans
Communication Skills
  • listening skills
  • language skills
  • building rapport
  • using nonverbal communication
  • resolving and avoiding conflict
  • understanding and working within culturally diverse communities
Cultural Humility/Cultural Responsiveness
  • serve as a bridge between different cultures
  • translating healthy behaviors into culturally appropriate equivalents
  • understanding and working to reduce health disparities
  • using cultural sensitivities for all diverse groups
  • behaving respectfully
  • identifying biases
Education and Facilitation Skills
  • using various ways to deliver health information clearly
  • explaining terms in plain language
  • promoting healthy behavior change
  • finding and use resources to develop self-efficacy skills
Evaluation and Research
  • identifying issues in communities and their causes
  • conducting evaluation projects
  • collecting data
  • sharing results
  • communicating to stakeholders to make changes in services
Experience and Knowledge Base
  • fully understanding the community, including social determinants of health, health issues, ways to improve health and self-care, and basic public-health principles
  • understanding how US social-service systems work
Individual and Community Assessment and Direct Services
  • identifying needs, strengths and resources of communities
  • helping meet needs
  • helping clients understand their needs and overcome barriers
  • providing social and health support
Interpersonal and Relationship-Building Skills
  • establishing trust with people and in communities
  • being open-minded
  • using Motivational Interviewing techniques
Outreach Skills, Methods and Strategies
  • developing and implementing outreach plans
  • sharing information about programs and resources
  • creating and maintain relationships with community members and partners
Professional Skills and Conduct
  • understanding and handling legal and ethical challenges
  • respecting confidentiality and privacy rights
  • responding appropriately in complex situations
  • understanding and following agency rules

Originally published Oct 31, 2019, updated October 02, 2020.

Setting CHW Learning Goals

By Eliana Ifill

The career path that leads to being a community health worker (CHW) or promotor de salud is one full of growth opportunities, hands-on experience, and human interaction. As a CHW, you have the chance to improve your community members’ well-being every day and help them across the most challenging stumbling blocks in their lives.

But that’s not all there is to it.

Aspects like bureaucracy, unclear scopes of practice, and the complicated nature of health care–especially for marginalized communities–leave many CHWs feeling overloaded and like it’s hard too to set professional development and learning goals.

However, setting professional goals is the best way to build skills for the job you have and start to gain experience for advancing on a career path.

The first step in being a CHW is to complete core competencies training—this is often required from the state where you live. Then, build on to that solid base with specialized training that fits the needs of your community or what you want to do. Meet with your supervisor regularly, maybe every three months or twice a year, to discuss these options and get their support.

Continuous education and training will help you benefit your career and also help the people you work with. Read on for more ideas about setting your own learning goals.

5 Things To Keep in Mind When Setting Your CHW Learning Goals

  1. What areas in your community need the most support?
  2. What certificates or training does your state require for CHW programs?
  3. What are your professional goals?
  4. How are you going to measure your CHW learning goals?
  5. What support systems do you have in place?

 

1.     What areas in your community need the most support?

Community health workers and promotores de salud work closely with underserved communities, 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:

  • medical conditions of clients
  • requirements of your employer
  • specific needs of those in your community.

This might include a chronic illness that’s a problem where you live, such as diabetes or heart disease. Or it might include more general skills such as advocacy, help navigating health insurance, transportation, or language services.

2.     What certificates or training does your state require for CHW programs?

While not all states have legislation in place for CHW programs, it’s important to check with your local authorities whether you need official certifications, hands-on experience (many programs require a number of supervised hours in the field), or any other requirement as you start your CHW career.

Not sure where to start? Find out what the CHW certification requirements in your state.

3.     What are your professional goals?

Whether you’re looking at a long-term career as a CHW or see this as a steppingstone, your professional goals should shape your choices from early on.

If you’re considering a career in public health, medicine, or social services, it’s smart to explore your local opportunities and connect with other professionals in positions similar to what you’re after. Look at some of the most important job skills to build a CHW career path.

4.     How are you going to measure your CHW learning goals?

Once you’ve more or less defined your aspirations as a CHW, 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 stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based (or time-bound).

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.

5.     What support systems do you have in place?

While working on the field can be extremely rewarding, you’ll likely face many challenges as a CHW, both in witnessing struggle firsthand and navigating bureaucracy and injustice day in and day out.

Developing healthy habits and a strong support system, along with clear boundaries, is key to protect your own well-being and those closest to you. Take this quiz to see if you might be burned out.

Autism: New Course Helps Underserved Families in Washington

The number of children who have been diagnosed with Autism has increased sharply in recent years—at least for some children.

White children in the U.S. are tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a part of regular care, which means they can be diagnosed earlier and go down a road for intervention and services that tremendously helps both them and their families reach their fullest potential.

Hispanic or Latino and Black children, on the other hand, are less likely to be diagnosed with ASD than white kids. Hispanic children are 65% less likely to be diagnosed, and Black children 19% less likely, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health.

A new project from the Washington State Department of Health aims to reduce those disparities and add support to vulnerable families in the state with the help of community health workers (CHWs) through a course called Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“This project is really exciting! It gives CHWs a better understanding of what Autism is and helps them build their network of resources to share with families going through diagnosis and afterwards, that will be fundamental in helping families in Washington State,” says Nikki Dyer, Family Engagement Coordinator in the office of Prevention and Community Health at the Washington State Department of Health.

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder was built by online training agency Talance, Inc., and is offered for no cost as part of Washington’s Community Health Worker Training Program. More than 2000 people from around the state have participated in the 10-week online program, designed to strengthen the common skills, knowledge, and abilities of community health workers. Past participants are eligible to enroll in any of the free Continuing Education Health Specific Modules, including Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder “lets CHWs get a grasp of what kind of resources they have locally around diagnosis, referral, and how to navigate a family,” says Dyer. It also exposes CHWs to services for kids with Autism who have already been diagnosed through to Transitioning to adulthood services.

“Transition’s a huge issue that has been largely unexplored and leaves a big gap for autistic youth and their families when making that leap to adult services,” Dyer says.

 

Focus on Early Diagnosis

One of the main goals of the course is to encourage earlier and more equitable access to diagnosis, especially for families who face health disparities due to race, ethnicity, and cultural needs.

“Pre-diagnosis is a chaotic time in a family’s life,” says Dyer.

Families might:

  • Not be able to recognize the early signs.
  • Feel confused and isolated when their child is diagnosed with ASD and immediately after.
  • Suspect their child has Autism but wait to get a diagnosis or feel too overwhelmed by the reality of the diagnosis to know where to find services and supports.

Diagnosing ASD early can help families cope. Early interventions are also critically important to helping children with ASD develop social skills and improve their quality of life.

“Early diagnosis provides the best possibility to be proactive and provide the child with services to reach their fullest potential development,” says Dyer.

Health Disparities and ASD

Here’s where many Black and Hispanic or Latino families are left behind. If their children are never diagnosed, or diagnosed later in life, they miss out on these important support mechanisms and adjustments to help families and youth. Outreach campaigns to have all children screened for ASD can catch some of the people who fall through.

The number of white children diagnosed with ASD compared to Black and Hispanic children is much higher. Source: CDC.

Some communities have a cultural stigma or other expectations of childhood development. That can prevent early diagnosis and put a stop to families seeking a diagnosis even when their provider or child’s teacher may encourage it.

Working Across Washington

Dyer and her colleagues in the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs program knew of the challenges of supporting families in Washington.

“They turned their eyes toward CHWs and began investigating collaborative opportunities with the Department of Health’s CHW Training Program for developing training resources,” says Scott Carlson, Community Health Worker Training System Supervisor at the Washington State Department of Health.

CHWs work in the homes of families all around the state, and—importantly–in the most underserved areas. With the right kind of training, CHWs can make referrals to ASD specialists and provide other resources.

 

“Family navigators” are healthcare workers who regularly support families with an ASD diagnosis. But—like CHWs—they don’t have a clear definition. It’s a catch-all term for someone who provides families with extra care coordination. There are no training requirements or standard services provided by family navigators.

The upshot: CHWs can be family navigators. They can use the skills provided through the Washington CHW program and through this training to serve families in a culturally and linguistically competent and relevant way.

“We would like to promote the CHW program by creating this course and making it open to partners who are doing peer mentoring and navigation for people with special health care needs, even if they are not trained CHWs,” says Dyer.

Doing so opens up employment possibilities for participants who want to be CHWs but might not know about the number of available jobs labeled as “family navigation.”

“We would also like to promote the program as a whole and encourage our partners who may receive access to this module without being a CHW to take the initial training in those basic skills.”

CHW Family Navigation Skills

People who participate in Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder will gain skills that support families in many areas, including:

  • Understanding what ASD is and its stages of severity
  • Advocating for early testing and diagnosis through referring clients and providers
  • Care coordination for connecting families to needed services, supports, and therapies, even outside of the healthcare field, specifically through a customized resource directory

So far, learner feedback has been overwhelmingly positive for the course. In a survey, 92% found it interesting and easy to follow, and 95% were able to find ASD resources that were local and relevant to their jobs.

“This information will be applied immediately,” says Najja Brown, who recently completed the training. Brown works with ASD clients as part of her work through DSHS/DDA. “We will understand our clients better, be able to recommend resources/support groups, and make appropriate suggestions based on the information learned. We will also use the proper language when references to ASD.

“I know so much more than before. When I resume providing services, I will have a better understanding of my clients, whom are all ASD.”

Additional Training

Anyone interested in taking Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder can learn more at Washington’s Community Health Worker Training website.

Dyer suggests participating in these courses as a “Family Navigation track”:

  • Providing Social Support
  • Immunizations Across the Lifespan
  • Navigating Health Insurance
  • Health Advocacy
  • Social Determinants of Health & Disparities
  • Depression, Anxiety, & Stress