Community Health Worker Training Program

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Organization Type: 
Program Type: 
Standing Program
Education Level: 
Continuing Education
Educational Elements: 
Self Reflection Activities
Experiential not including services to patients
Other Element(s): 
Hybrid of in-person and online training
Program Description: 

The Community Health Worker Training program is an online training system for community health workers (CHWs) to strengthen commonly practiced skills, knowledge, and abilities. Housed in the Washington State Department of Health, this program offers eight weeks of training free-of-charge. The role and responsibilities of community health workers are sometimes unclear due to the multiple duties they perform. A lack of a clear definition of their role can affect care coordination, integrated primary care, and community health teams. To improve the care delivery system of Washington, this program strengthens core competencies and health specific skills for this workforce.

The training program is structured as such:

  • Attend two in-person sessions wrapped around six weeks of facilitated online training.
  • Training topics include communication, cultural competency, CHW roles and boundaries, organization, documentation, assessment, service coordination skills, etc.
  • Receive a certificate of completion.
  • Upon completion of core competencies, access to eight additional online modules including breast, cervical, colorectal, prostate heath and cancer screenings, cardiovascular health, diabetes, understanding disparities & social determinants and navigating health insurance. Other modules will be added as funding permits.

This online training program is offered quarterly in seven regions across the state; the online curriculum provides an efficient and easy to access platform that ensures consistency across the state. It is low cost, easy to customize and trains a high volume of workers. Program staff serve as online training facilitators with local health educators serving as co-trainers during the first and final in-person sessions.

Through partnerships with the regional Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Prime Contractors and organizations like the Comprehensive Health Education Foundation, this program has:

  • Provided core competency training to over 330 CHWs across the state and health specific training to over 60 CHWs.
  • Established the training schedule for 2014 with a capacity to train over 500 new CHWs as demand increases in the new health reform environment.
  • Begun discussions on the development on new health specific modules including hypertension and blood pressure, oral health and prevention, and asthma.

Using CHWs is recognized as a successful approach for reducing racial and ethnic health disparities.  Such workers are known by a variety of names, including community health worker, community health advisor, outreach worker, community health representative, promotora/ promotores de salud, patient navigator, peer counselor, lay health advisor, peer health advisor, and peer leader. CHWs have a close understanding of the area they serve and form trusting relationships that allow them to link people to health and social services. They help increase access to services and improve the quality and cultural sensitivity of health services provided. In addition, CHWs build knowledge about personal health and self-care in communities through activities like outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy. They assist health care providers and systems managers with building cultural relevancy into interventions and strengthening communication skills by educating providers and managers on the health needs of the community. CHWs help reduce health care costs by linking patients to resources and helping them avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and other forms of more expensive care. Results of this work include improvements in health outcomes for community members.

Targeted Professions
Family Medicine
Internal Medicine
Nurse Practitioners
Registered Nurses
Licensed Practical Nurses
Ambulatory Care
Internal Medicine
Social Work: 
Psychiatric social work
Medical social work
Clinical Health
Medical Assistants
Patient Educators
Physician Assistants
Oral Health
Self-Reported Competencies
PCPCC’s Education and Training Task Force identified 16 interprofessional training competencies critical for preparing health professionals for practicing in team-based, coordinated care models such as patient-centered medical homes. Listed below are the self-reported competencies that this program has achieved, which have been organized by the five core features of a medical home as defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Patient-Centered Care Competencies: 
Cultural sensitivity and competence in culturally appropriate practice
Development of effective, caring relationships with patients
Patient-centered care planning, including collaborative decision-making and patient self-management
Coordinated Care Competencies: 
Care coordination for comprehensive care of patient & family in the community
Health information technology, including e-communications with patients & other providers
Interprofessionalism & interdisciplinary team collaboration
Last updated July 21, 2014

* Please note: Information contained in this database is self-reported by representatives from each program. It does not represent an exhaustive list of education and training programs and inclusion does not constitute an endorsement from the PCPCC.


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