Community Health Worker (CHW) Program
Montana Office of Rural Health/AHEC exists to enhance access to quality healthcare, particularly primary and preventative care, by improving the supply and distribution of healthcare professional through community/academic educational partnerships. Our partnerships have created programs and committees to support Montana communities and the state's healthcare workforce.
About the Training
The Montana Community Health Worker (CHW) Fundamentals training provides the knowledge and skills necessary to become a Community Health Worker. The instructor-guided curriculum takes approximately eight weeks (85 hours) to complete and consists of six online Learning Modules and a 25-hour on-the-job Supervised Experience taken at the completion of the six Modules. Each Module contains written content, videos, application activities, case studies and reflective journaling. An individual will gain skills in the following areas: professional skills & conduct; communication; self-care; interpersonal relationships; outreach, navigation & coordination; organization; advocacy; capacity building & teaching. The CHW training is facilitated by an instructor and provides a certificate upon completion. The Community Health Worker Fundamentals Overview, includes a summary of course modules and learning outcomes.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) defines a CHW as “a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. The CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.”
The roles of Community Health Workers are tailored to the communities that they serve. Generally, CHWs promote access to services, provide health education, support care delivery, and promote advocacy. Since CHWs are typically community members, they have strong community connections and greater opportunities to build relationships and extend the reach of healthcare services. Research consistently demonstrates that CHWs increase care outcomes and quality of care in rural populations. The training and retention of CHWs is essential for improving healthcare for rural Montanans.
An employer must formally sponsor a trainee prior to the start of the training. It is vital that the employer has the resources necessary for the trainee to meet the Supervised Experience required activities. The CHW “Manual for Supervised Experience” is available for sponsoring Facilities/Agencies, Instructors, and Preceptors. The host facility will pay the participant’s training cost upfront and then would be reimbursed upon the participant’s completion of the training.
- A high school diploma or GED is preferred.
- All trainees must be sponsored by an employer, as 25 hours of supervised experience are required to complete the training.
- If needed, completion of a Computer Literacy Assessment & Training.
- Employers may have additional requirements (talk to your employer).
Project and Training Coordinator
This program is supported by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official view of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.
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