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Rural Health Information Hub

Staffing and Resource Considerations for Health Literacy Programs

When developing a rural health literacy program, it is important to have the appropriate type and level of staffing. Successful programs have staff with a deep understanding of and connection to the community they serve. Program staff may include community health workers (CHWs), communication experts, web designers, and graphic designers — depending on content and whether the program is focusing on using digital tools.

As a program builds its workforce, program leadership should consider training opportunities for staff and the resources necessary to support training. For example, providing training for CHWs or other lay community members leading education and outreach efforts to improve health literacy can expand the CHWs' knowledge base and widen program impact. Additionally, strong communication and interpersonal skills are key considerations for CHWs and other outreach staff, and programs may wish to consider providing specialized communication training. See the Community Health Workers Toolkits for more CHW implementation considerations.

Trainings on effective patient-provider communication techniques should also be considered as a workforce development strategy for health literacy programs with clinical staff and partners. Rural programs have incorporated health literacy into professional trainings, such as medical student training, residency training programs, certificate programs, and other continuing medical education. This approach can improve quality of care and patient-provider communication. To learn more about the types of health literacy training opportunities available, see Module 2: Program Models.

Incorporating equitable hiring practices as part of workforce development can help facilitate trust and lead to an increase in investment and buy-in of program goals. Organizations that embed health equity principles overall will be more likely to meet the cultural and linguistic health literacy needs of the people they serve.