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Rural Health Information Hub

Formerly the
Rural Assistance Center

Community Health Worker Curriculums

Training curriculum for community health workers (CHWs) differs from program to program, with no standardized approaches. This is because each community has different needs. Many states have training programs at academic institutions and direct services agencies, but the content, focus, and organization of these training programs vary.

Many rural CHW programs have created curricula from existing resources and best practices. Curricula may include, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Accessing healthcare and social services systems
  • Practicing cultural competency
  • The pathophysiology of different diseases
  • Translating, interpreting, and facilitating client-provider communications
  • Gathering information for medical providers
  • Working with clinicians
  • Delivering services as part of a medical home team
  • Educating social services providers on community/population needs
  • Teaching concepts of disease prevention and health promotion to lay populations
  • Understanding of how the CHW’s work aligns with health system goals
  • Managing chronic conditions, including training on lifestyle strategies, risk factors, self-monitoring and medications
  • Engaging in health prevention and promotion activities
  • Home visiting
  • Understanding liability issues
  • Understanding community prejudices
  • HIPAA and patient privacy
  • Safety
  • Mental health
  • Motivational interviewing and public speaking
  • Utilizing technology, including mobile applications

CHW curriculums should also encourage:

  • Practice time for new skills learned
  • Role-play prior to interacting with patients
  • Retention and reference to training resources, such as pamphlets or manuals
  • Shadowing CHWs in the field, if possible

A chart of state CHW models from the National Academy for State Health Policy highlights CHW education and certification information by state.

Resources to Learn More

Basic and Cross-Cutting Practice Competencies For Public Health Workforce Development
Report provides a framework of the public health workforce training needs and relevant competencies developed by national public health practice and academic organizations.
Organization(s): Illinois Public Health Preparedness Center

Community Health Worker Curriculum
Outlines and details a 21-week community health worker training course based on the certification program at Wright State University.
Organization(s): Wright State University Medical School
Date: 1/2017

Community Health Worker Insights on Their Training and Certification
The article defines CHWs through a consensus definition, identifies training needs in the area of core competencies, and examines possibilities for credentialing from the perspective of CHWs in New York City.
Author(s): Catalani, C.E.C., Findley, S.E., Matos, S., & Rodriguez, R.
Location: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 3(3)
Date: 2009

Community Health Worker Online and Onsite Training
Online continuing education training for CHWs geared at providing support for CHWs to reach public health outcomes and guidance on careers pathways in the region.
Organization(s): Oregon State University

Community Health Worker Training Resources
Variety of resources related to training CHWs including an iTunes-downloadable workshop held at New York University about CHWs’ interventions shared lessons learned, successes, and challenges.
Organization(s): NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health

The Community Health Worker's Sourcebook: A Training Manual for Preventing Heart Disease and Stroke
User-friendly curriculum for CHWs to increase skills in preventing heart disease and stroke.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Core Competencies for Community Health Workers
Identifies core skills and applied knowledge necessary for CHWs to work well in a variety of settings.
Organization(s): The Community Health Worker Initiative of Boston
Date: 10/2007

The Educational Approach of The Community Health Worker: Certificate Program vs. Traditional Approach
Table comparing CHW approach with traditional approach to education.
Organization(s): Community Health Works of San Francisco

Evaluation of a Community Health Worker Training Program in Rural Appalachia, USA
Describes an evaluation conducted to assess the curriculum, materials, and testing procedures for a CHW training program; discusses advantages of CHW programs in rural communities.
Author(s): Miller, W.C.
Location: International Journal of Medicine, 3(1): 33-37
Date: 2015

Incorporate Lay Health Workers to Promote Health and Prevent Disease
Essays that highlight evidence-based management and policy options of using lay CHWs for improving quality of care.
Organization(s): Canadian Health Services Research Foundation
Date: 9/2007

An Instructional Design Model for Culturally Competent Community Health Worker Training
Describes a process for developing CHW curriculum and provides a training module approved in Texas for CHW certification.
Author(s): Uriarte, J.A., Cummings, A.D., & Lloyd, L.E.
Location: Health Promotion Practice, 15(1 Suppl): 56S-63S
Date: 3/2014

Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance
Organization that provides resources on integrating CHWs to improve quality and cost effectiveness of care, and increase the number of healthcare workers who come from diverse backgrounds or underserved communities.