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How Programs Train Community Health Workers

Many programs provide on-the-job training so community health workers (CHWs) can develop competencies directly related to their activities. On-the-job training can be administered by the CHW program coordinator or informally through mentoring from an experienced CHW or healthcare provider.

Some CHWs pursue training through an organization or at an educational institution. A number of educational institutions offer courses, certificates, or degrees in the CHW field. For example:

  • Community college based training provides academic credit and career advancement opportunities through formal education
  • Certification at the state level, which recognizes and legitimizes the work of CHWs, and opens up potential reimbursement opportunities for CHW services
  • On-the-job training offered to improve capacities of CHWs and enhance their standards of practice

Skills training for CHWs can range from a few hours to training courses that last one or more days. Training techniques may include:

  • Role playing
  • Skits
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Problem-solving games
  • Small group discussions
  • An Internship

Rural and tribal communities have conducted train-the-trainer educational sessions for volunteer farm workers and community members who wanted to become CHWs; urban CHW programs have conducted similar training.

Trainings are led by a wide variety of individuals, including:

  • Providers such as physician's assistant or nurses
  • Health professions students
  • Experienced managers
  • Program coordinators

CHWs can also attend community or state-level trainings on emerging issues that affect the target population, such as new criteria for Medicaid enrollment.

Resources to Learn More

Philadelphia Ujima Curriculum/Training
Listing of resources regarding health, wellness, lay health workers, and teachers and youth workers.
Organization(s): Philadelphia Ujima

Sitting in Different Chairs: Roles of Community Health Workers in the Poder es Salud/Power for Health Project
Presents the CHWs' points of view regarding the various roles they played in a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project, Poder es Salud/Power for Health in Portland, Oregon, including their roles as community organizers and co-researchers.
Author(s): Farquhar, S.A., Wiggins, N., Michael, Y.L., Luhr, G., Jordan, J., & Lopez, A.
Organization(s): Education for Health
Date: 2008