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 first 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 and is currently undergoing another revision to ensure CHW training continues to evolve with the needs of the communities they serve.
The Minnesota CHW Curriculum is currently being used in other states as well, such as:
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
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.
Spotlight: CHW Curriculum Revision Experince
“I had the pleasure of working with fellow CHWs on revising the CHW Curriculum. The MN CHW Alliance asked me to author several modules around Healthy Aging. Excited, I humbly accepted the opportunity to share information with future CHW students. What I enjoyed most about working on the curriculum is having the creative freedom to develop the Healthy Aging modules. CHWs are great resources for new information. I really love the idea of CHWs being a resource for academic information and learning tools for future CHW students. Talk about Peer Learning!”
CHW Program Faculty are credentialed in Health or Public Health. We expect CHW Program Faculty to have experience working with CHWs and CHW programs. We also encourage faculty experience in Public Health. We strongly encourage programs to engage CHWs as teachers or co-teachers.
- Minnesota West Community & Technical College. MWCTC offers a program that is 100% online. They help students in setting up local internships in order to complete their certification. Learn more: Click here
- Normandale Community College, Bloomington. For information and to register: Click here
- Northwest Technical College, Bemidji. Learn more here: Click here
- 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 needs in conjunction with IMAA. Learn more here: Click here
- 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 Hyflex, so students can attend in-person or virtually. Contact Classes are offered in the evenings. Contact: Kelly Fox at email@example.com Learn more: Click here
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.
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: CHW Learning Circles
The Minnesota Community Health Workers Alliance hosts monthly CHW Learning Circle meeting the first Wednesday of each month to address current topics CHWs are working through and learn about various topics impacting CHWs. The zoom link for each meeting is posting a week prior at: https://mnchwalliance.org/blog/
WellShare International coordinates quarterly Community Health Worker Peer Network “lunch and learns”. 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.