The monthly CHW Circle meeting, hosted by CHW Angela Fields and WellShare, will occur this Wednesday, June 2nd at 3 pm! The Circle welcomes all CHWs, and those with like roles, to attend to engage in this community support network and discuss the topic of the month.
This month’s topic is a Health Coaching Workshop by Renee Gust, M.A., R.N., Senior Health Promotion Specialist with Hennepin County Public Health.
Click here to register.
Once the CHW Definition and Scope of Practice were established, (the topic of a previous blog) a survey of CHWs, employers, state agencies, health plans, and other stakeholders was completed. It revealed that CHWs wanted a standardized set of core competencies and a way into higher education and health care careers. Employers wanted a set of core competencies and a credential. They liked the idea of higher education and advancement into health care careers for CHWS, in part because they recognized a need to diversify health care providers to better reflect the population. Both CHWs and employers wanted to stop the unsustainable cycle of hiring for a grant and job loss when the funding ended. Both also noted that when CHWs were hired under a specific funding stream like tobacco cessation or diabetes management, they had to go through repetitive training which was time-consuming. A set of core competencies was needed that could serve CHWs and their employers across funding silos. Health plans also wanted a set of core competencies and a credential.
The core competencies were developed based on the CHW Definition and the CHW Scope of Practice. The curriculum was then designed around the core competencies. It is important to note that 10 years later when the national CHW Core Competency (C3) Project reviewed and analyzed CHW curriculums across the country for core competencies, skills, and roles, Minnesota’s curriculum covered all those identified as necessary. Minnesota’s curriculum may well have stood the test of time because CHWs and stakeholders were so involved in its development. Here is another interesting fact: the Minnesota CHW Curriculum has been purchased by organizations and is in use in 18 other states.
The CHW Definition and Scope of Practice form part of the backbone of the CHW Field in Minnesota.
When the CHW Certificate Curriculum was first created, the planning group did not set out to create a curriculum but first asked, “what is needed to move the CHW profession forward?” The initial answers were a CHW Definition and Scope of Practice. These were created by a broad-based group of CHWs, representatives of clinics, hospitals, Local Public Health, community-based organizations, medical organizations, culturally specific organizations, health plans, state agencies, educators, the Board of Nursing, Social Workers, FQHCs, and others. Their thought was that the CHW Definition and Scope of Practice would begin to define the field. The CHW Definition focused on what the group had found and research-validated made a strong CHW: shared life, cultural and linguistic experience with the population they serve (or a very close connection and understanding of it), trustworthy and compassionate. CHWs are recognized by their community as a trusted resource.
Once the definition was in place, the group worked on the Scope of Practice. The Scope of Practice was created with input from the Minnesota Board of Nursing and socials workers, two professions expected to work closely with CHWs. The CHW definition and Scope of Practice were designed to define a distinct and needed workforce; a workforce that could help Minnesota’s health professions begin to reflect the population.
Closely related to the planning of a conference (see blog from April 19th) is the planning of a Fundraising Event. Many of the same questions and answers go into the planning of this kind of event with the addition of: “Who can we invite who would love to know about the CHW field in Minnesota and will go away saying “I’m so glad to know that I can contribute (time, money, knowledge, other resources) to this organization that is doing so much to advance this field of work!”?” Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not been able to have a fundraiser for the MN CHW Alliance since 2019. This is a project that we need to revive as soon as we are able!
One more committee that I have had the honor of working on is the Education Committee. As you read in the blog post from March 2, 2021, this committee has been hard at work updating the statewide curriculum. Again, I have learned so much by working with this wonderful group of educators.
While I have benefited and grown by my work on these committees, I know that each committee has also appreciated hearing from my perspective as an active CHW. I would strongly encourage every CHW to ask yourself where you can plugin and throw your voice into the conversation. It may begin with a simple conversation with one committee member or being part of a meeting with many committee members. It may be once a week, once a month, or once a year. Everyone’s voice counts! If you hear or read about a project that sounds enticing please, step up to the opportunity and see the impact it has on you as well as the impact you can have on our field.
-Kimberli Barker, CHW
This is the end of our series about opportunities in the Alliance. If you are interested in getting more involved please reach out!