Kylie Register

June 10, 2024

Unlocking the Role: Community Health Worker


A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of the community they serve. This trust enables CHWs to be a vital link between health services and the community, fostering greater understanding and access to healthcare. Their role is diverse and multifaceted, encompassing a range of activities aimed at improving health outcomes, particularly in underserved areas.


Key Roles and Responsibilities

Health Education and Promotion:

CHWs provide essential education on health topics such as nutrition, chronic disease management, maternal and child health, and preventive care. They use culturally relevant methods to ensure that the information is accessible and understandable.


Patient Advocacy and Support

They advocate for individuals and communities within the healthcare system, helping to navigate complex medical and social services. This includes assisting with appointment scheduling, transportation, and understanding medical instructions.

Community Outreach and Engagement

CHWs engage with the community to identify health concerns and connect people with appropriate resources. They conduct outreach activities, home visits, and health screenings to ensure that community members are aware of and can access the services they need.


Care Coordination

By working closely with healthcare providers, CHWs help to coordinate care for patients, ensuring continuity and comprehensiveness of care. They facilitate communication between patients and providers, enhancing the effectiveness of the healthcare system.


Data Collection and Reporting

They collect and report health data from the community, providing valuable insights that can inform public health initiatives and policy. This data helps to identify trends, gaps, and needs within the community.


The Impact of Community Health Workers

CHWs play a critical role in reducing health disparities and improving health outcomes, particularly in low-income and marginalized communities. By building trust and providing culturally competent care, they help to bridge gaps in the healthcare system, leading to increased access to services, improved health literacy, and better overall health for the community.

In essence, Community Health Workers are the bridge between the community and the healthcare system, fostering a healthier and more informed populace. Their unique position and deep understanding of the communities they serve make them indispensable in the quest for equitable and effective healthcare for all.


Where Can You Work as a Community Health Worker?

Community Health Workers are employed by a variety of organizations across different sectors. These include:

Healthcare Organizations

Hospitals and Clinics: Hospitals and outpatient clinics hire CHWs to assist with patient education, follow-up care, and to serve as liaisons between patients and healthcare providers.

Primary Care Facilities: Community health centers and primary care practices employ CHWs to improve patient outcomes and manage chronic diseases.


Public Health Agencies

Local Health Departments: City or county health departments hire CHWs to implement public health initiatives, conduct community outreach, and provide education on preventive health measures.

State Health Departments: State-level public health agencies utilize CHWs for broader public health campaigns, data collection, and to address state-specific health challenges.


Nonprofit Organizations:

Community-Based Organizations (CBOs): Nonprofits focused on health promotion, disease prevention, and community support often hire CHWs to deliver services directly to underserved populations.

Health Advocacy Groups: Organizations advocating for specific health issues, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or mental health, employ CHWs to provide education, support, and resources.


Social Service Agencies:

Social Work Agencies: Agencies providing social services may hire CHWs to assist clients in accessing healthcare services, managing social determinants of health, and connecting with community resources.

Housing and Homeless Services: Organizations focused on housing and homelessness often employ CHWs to address the health needs of their clients and facilitate access to medical care.


Educational Institutions

Schools and Universities: Educational institutions may hire CHWs to work with students and their families, providing health education, promoting wellness, and linking them to healthcare services.

Community Colleges and Training Programs: These institutions may also employ CHWs to support public health training and education initiatives within the community.


Health Insurance Companies

Managed Care Organizations (MCOs): Health insurers, particularly those offering Medicaid or Medicare plans, hire CHWs to help members navigate the healthcare system, manage chronic conditions, and improve health outcomes.

Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs): HMOs may employ CHWs to support care coordination, patient education, and preventive health efforts.


Employers and Corporations

Corporate Wellness Programs: Some large companies hire CHWs as part of their employee wellness programs to promote healthy lifestyles, conduct health screenings, and provide health education.

Occupational Health Services: Businesses focused on occupational health may employ CHWs to support workers in managing health issues related to their job environments.


Faith-Based Organizations

Religious Institutions: Churches, mosques, synagogues, and other faith-based organizations may employ CHWs to address the health needs of their congregations and the broader community


By employing CHWs, these organizations can enhance the delivery of healthcare, improve patient engagement, and address the social determinants of health, ultimately contributing to better health outcomes for the communities they serve.



Becoming a Certified Community Health Worker

Becoming a certified Community Health Worker involves a combination of education, training, and practical experience. Becoming a certified Community Health Worker equips you with the skills and knowledge necessary to make a meaningful impact on public health. Certification not only opens doors to rewarding career opportunities but also enhances your credibility with employers and the community, providing recognition as a qualified professional in community health. Certification requirements can vary by state or country, but there are common steps and best practices to follow:


Education Requirements

Most certification programs require applicants to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some states and programs may recommend or require coursework in health-related fields, such as public health, social work, or health education, to ensure a foundational understanding of relevant concepts.


Formal Training Programs

Enrolling in a CHW training program accredited by a recognized organization like the University of Florida or state health department is crucial. These programs are often offered by community colleges, technical schools, universities, and health departments. The training typically covers topics such as health promotion, disease prevention, community outreach, communication skills, cultural competency, and basic medical knowledge. Additionally, programs may address specific issues like chronic disease management, maternal and child health, and mental health support.


Practical Experience

Gaining hands-on experience through internships or fieldwork is an essential part of becoming a CHW. Many certification programs include a practical component where trainees work under the supervision of experienced CHWs or healthcare professionals in community settings. Volunteering with community organizations, health clinics, or public health agencies can also provide valuable experience and enhance your skills and understanding of community health work.


Certification Exam

In some states, like Florida, passing a certification exam is required. This exam typically tests knowledge of public health principles, community health concepts, and the skills necessary to perform the duties of a CHW. Preparation for the exam may involve reviewing training materials, taking practice tests, and attending review sessions offered by the training program or certifying body.

How to become a Certified Community Health Worker in Florida

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Take your CHW training with UF

The University of Florida offers the training needed to become a Certified Community Health Worker in the state of Florida. Our course is 100% online and takes aproximately 6 months to complete. There are also possible funding opportunities available with CareerSource North Central Florida. Contact Mary Crown at to learn more.


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