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(1) Standardized, competency-based education based in higher education
(2) On-the-job training
(3) Continuing education.
Together these components provide a strong educational framework for the CHW profession.
Minnesota is the only state with a statewide competency-based CHW educational program based in accredited post-secondary schools. The 14 credit program is a blend of classroom and field-based learning for those who have a high school diploma or GED, at a minimum. The curriculum is designed to articulate with other health professions preparation programs in nursing and allied health so that it is an educational pathway—not a dead-end. Introduced in 2005, the program content has already been revised once in 2010.
Curriculum Overview (Updated February 2015)
Minnesota’s standardized CHW curriculum is offered as a certificate program. There are now over 500 CHW certificate holders in Minnesota. CHW students are often the first in their families to seek higher education and serve as role models and educational navigators for members of their families and communities.
Currently, five post-secondary schools offer the certificate program. Faculty members have master’s degrees in public health, nursing and/or allied health and work experience in public health, health care and/or community services. Schedules, tuition and fees and financial aid policies vary by school.
No matter what job you hold, you need to be oriented to your employer’s policies and requirements and you also need to understand the expectations and accountabilities for your particular role. Wherever CHWs work—primarily in home, school or community settings or based in a clinic or hospital environment–an in-depth introduction to their job duties, team and work culture is critical to success. And since the CHW role is new to many health and social services personnel, it is also important for the CHW supervisor to orient team members to CHW hires, their scope of practice and accountabilities.
CHW employers provide general employee orientation as well as specific on-the-job training for their CHW staff. To learn more about on-the-job training resources, contact the CHW Supervisors Roundtable Co-Convenors, Angie Stevens, CHES, at email@example.com, or Jean Gunderson, DNP, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spotlight: Hennepin County Medical Center provides a specialized six week on-boarding program for CHWs new to their health care home team. CHW staff also receive training in health coaching.
Staying on top of changes in the public health and health care fields points to the importance of continuing education. In public health and health care where rapid change means new resources, program eligibility guidelines, care pathways, medications, prevention and treatment options, continuing education is valuable for all employees, including the CHW workforce. While continuing education is not mandatory for CHWs in Minnesota and most states, CHWs seek opportunities for ongoing learning at their worksites and in the community.
Spotlight: The Minnesota Community Health Worker Peer Network provides CHW continuing education programs at no charge 4-6 times per year at the Minnesota Church Center in Minneapolis with teleconference option. Programs are offered by staff at voluntary health associations, state and local public health, care systems and other organizations.
For more information, visit the Wellshare International website.