In Minnesota, CHW education includes:
- Standardized, competency-based education based in higher education
- On-the-job training
- Continuing education
Together these components provide a strong educational framework for the CHW profession.
MN CHW Curriculum
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)
CHW Certificate Program
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.
- Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Minneapolis. MCTC offers an evening program during its fall semester which begins in August. Learn more here.
- Normandale Community College, Bloomington. For information and to register: http://www.normandale.edu/degrees-and-certificates/community-health-worker-navigator
- Northwest Technical College, Bemidji. Learn more here: http://www.ntcmn.edu/academics/programs/community_health/community_health_worker
- Rochester Community and Technical College, Rochester. RCTC’s Customized Education Program has graduated two cohorts of CHW certificate holders.Program is offered based on regional need.
- Saint Catherine University, St. Paul Campus. St. Kate’s offers the certificate program as a stand-alone or as part of a baccalaureate degree over a full academic year with classes meeting on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. Contact: Julie Mumm, CHW Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Summit Academy OIC, Minneapolis. Summit offers a daytime program for CHW students throughout the year. Contact: Amanda Wasiliewski, MPH, CHW Faculty at email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jean Gunderson, DNP, at email@example.com.
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: WellShare International coordinates quarterly Community Health Worker Peer Network “lunch and learns” at the Minnesota Church Center in Minneapolis. These quarterly, no-charge CHW informational programs are offered by WellShare International and led by guest presenters from health associations, state and local public health, care systems and other organizations. Topics are chosen based on participant interest and have included health coaching, chronic disease management, mental health, etc.
For more information, visit the Wellshare International website.