Community health workers are powerhouses that have a huge impact on the health of community members. But they’re still not as well-known as they should be among healthcare organizations, especially considering what a benefit they can have on improving people’s lives. So what exactly is a CHW? A CHW is someone who helps friends, 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.
A CHW is someone who helps friends, neighbors and clients lead a healthier lifestyle.
CHWs usually come from the communities where they work, so they can build rapport with clients in a unique way.
CHWs work in a variety of places. 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.
Many countries are familiar with CHWs, as well as people with similar titles, such as health advocates, promotores, or peer health educators. They commonly work in places like Africa and Latin America and are more widely employed than in the US.
However, with the coronavirus, that is changing.
COVID-19 has created serious gaps in health services in the US, and CHWs are there to help underserved communities. Many communities rely on CHWs to help the public understand vaccinations, get services if they’re ill, and help them find services such as transportation, childcare and rental assistance. So, more employers are wondering how to train their team to be CHWs.
Community Health Worker Jobs
Recently, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment of CHWs and other health educators is booming. It will grow 11% by 2028, a much higher rate than other occupations. Those numbers have almost certainly increased after the coronavirus, because many health systems need the unique skills of a CHW.
It’s a secure job choice if you’re considering a career as a CHW. If you’re a program manager or director looking for ways to increase the impact and response of your healthcare team, you should consider adding CHWs.
First, you should understand what exactly a CHW is. CHWs and other health promoters have a distinctive place in the community and unique relationships with patients and clients. Individuals and agencies should have an idea about how to work as or with a CHW. That’s why typical CHW core competencies training includes roles and boundaries of the job.
If you’re wondering what a CHW does, view our on-demand training about what a CHW is. It includes details on how CHWs work within agencies and how to CHWs can get started on their career.
It includes a deep dive into:
- How CHWs are members of a community
- The responsibilities of CHWs
- The most common places where CHWs work
- The key skills CHWs should develop to succeed on the job
Impact of Community Health Workers
CHWs have been very useful in helping high-risk patients set and reach health goals, and bridge gaps in healthcare around communities. They help keep people out of the emergency room and avoid the need for many procedures and care.
Studies show that the impact of CHWs extends long beyond their work with a client. So, by showing a person how to take charge of their health, where to find the help they need, and how to use the resources around them, they’re empowered to keep on the same positive path.