Idaho Community Health Worker Training
In December 2014, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) received a state innovation model grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. This grant funds a four-year model test that began on February 1, 2015, to implement the Statewide Healthcare Innovation Plan (SHIP). During the grant period, Idaho will demonstrate that the state's healthcare system can be transformed through effective care coordination between primary care providers practicing patient-centered care and the broader medical-health neighborhood.
SHIP includes initiatives to expand the reach of primary care and improve access to healthcare services in rural and underserved communities. These initiatives include Community Health Workers, Community Health Emergency Medical Services, and telehealth expansion and collectively referred to as the "virtual patient- centered medical home (PCMH)." The virtual PCMH is identified as SHIP goal #4. For additional information, please see PCMH information.
To begin the SHIP Community Health Worker (CHW) initiative, IDHW convened a series of stakeholder meetings to develop a definition, hear from subject matter experts, learn about existing CHW programs, and create a set of training recommendations for Idaho. The stakeholder group recommended that Idaho adopt and adapt the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Care Coordination Program for its CHW core curriculum. Please visit the SHIP CHW webpage for meeting information and materials
What Is A Community Health Worker?
The SHIP CHW stakeholder group adopted the following American Public Health Association definition for Idaho:
"A Community Health Worker (CHW) is 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. A 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."
CHWs play an important role as a bridge between traditionally underserved populations and needed health information; support and care; as well as basic and social services. CHWs often assist in disease prevention as well as in addressing the following: chronic disease management, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, substance abuse, asthma and others. Key CHW roles include outreach, health education, client advocacy and empowerment, as well as health system navigation. CHWs are distinguished from other health professionals because they are hired primarily for their special connection to and understanding of the populations and communities they serve, conduct individual and community outreach a significant portion of the time, and have experience providing services in community settings.
What is the Community Health Worker training program?
Idaho State University, in collaboration with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Statewide Healthcare Innovation Plan (SHIP) project, is offering training for Idaho residents who are interested in becoming CHWs utilizing the curriculum developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Care Coordination Program.
Training will be delivered live, online in a web-based classroom and can be taken from anywhere around the state on a weekday evening from 6:30 - 9:30 PM (MST) for 16 weeks in the fall, spring or summer semesters. The CHW core course includes 48 hours of live on-line learning plus an additional 16 hours for homework and project assignments. Students successfully completing the core course will be provided with a certificate of completion. Continuing Education credits are available for a small additional cost.
How can I become a Community Health Worker?
Currently, the course is only open to students and employers that agree to participate in the SHIP initiative. There is no cost for Idaho residents to participate in the course, however, students and their employers must agree to submit information to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare after course completion. There is no cost to take the training but interested individuals must seek approval from Idaho Health and Welfare's SHIP program to take the training. To qualify for the CHW training course students must:
- Be current Idaho residents;
- Agree to participate in the SHIP initiative and submit data to IDHW on a quarterly basis for one full year after completing the training program;
- Receive a letter of support from their employer or community sponsoring agency as part of the application process.
Students who successfully complete the training will receive a certificate verifying course completion.