Community health workers are a critical component of healthcare in Western Massachusetts, and their role is evolving as the focus on wellness and preventative care increases. A community health worker promotes full and equal access to health and social services in the community he or she serves, and helps healthcare organizations implement programs to promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health.
Community health workers:
- Keep people healthier by educating them about preventative care
- Provide more access to primary care and wellness services, such as blood pressure screenings and nutrition programs
- Help to identify community health needs and eliminate health disparities by helping patients and families navigate the healthcare system
- Counsel and advocate for patients and families
- Work directly with nurses, physicians and care managers
Employment opportunities can be found in:
- Primary care
- Community-based organizations
- Faith-based organizations
- Human service agencies
The job titles of a community health worker can also be case coordinator, community coordinator, community health advisor, community health representative, community liaison, family service coordinator, home visitor, parent aide, patient navigator, promodora, promotor(a) de salud, outreach advocate, outreach educator, prevention coordinator, street outreach worker, or youth worker.
Massachusetts is developing a statewide certification program for community health workers, so employer’s requirements for this career will evolve over time.
Education and training requirements
Qualifications and education requirements vary from employer to employer. Typically community health workers receive on-the-job training. Currently, there is no state credentialing requirement for entry-level community health worker. A college degree is sometimes, but not always, required.
Community health workers are also expected to have:
- An accurate understanding of the communities that they serve
- Up-to-date knowledge of their local and regional healthcare systems
- Strong cultural competence
- Good documentation and organizational skills