Community Health Workers: A Vital Link Between Healthcare and The Community

Community Health Workers: A Vital Link Between Healthcare and The Community

Community Health Workers (CHW) are individuals who work to improve the health and well-being of members in a community by bridging the gaps between the healthcare system and the everyday needs of individuals and families. Individuals who work in this field have a passion for helping people and a deep understanding of the communities they serve. They assist in providing education, guidance, and support to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle and manage their chronic conditions. CHW is a fast-growing field and has become an essential part of the healthcare industry.

Examples of Community Health Worker Jobs

Community health workers work in various settings and diverse communities, providing care to individuals and families. Here are a few examples of their job roles:

  • Helping pregnant women to access prenatal care and providing education on healthy pregnancies
  • Assisting people with chronic illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes, in managing their conditions and accessing appropriate health services.
  • Working with individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues to develop and maintain healthy lifestyle habits.
  • Helping people to access and navigate the healthcare system and medical resources such as emergency services, prenatal care, and community-based resources.
  • Advocating for clients and ensuring they have access to appropriate medical/social resources to address their needs.

Education and Training for Community Health Workers

The education and training needed to become a CHW depend on the employer, job level, and the scope of the work. Requirements can range from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a relevant field such as public health, social work, or counseling. Additionally, a CHW might need specialized training in areas like mental health, diabetes management or responsible conduct of research.

Many CHWs have completed a comprehensive program in community health work or have certification in the field. There are many community colleges, technical schools, or universities offering courses or certificates in CHW training programs. These training programs provide the necessary knowledge and skills a CHW needs to work with patients, identify healthcare disparities, and navigate the healthcare landscape most efficiently.

How to Get Into The Field As A Newcomer?

As a newcomer to the field, you can start with a high school diploma and then opt to further your education by taking courses in a relevant field like public health, social work, or counseling. Alternatively, you can enroll in a CHW training or certificate program. Volunteering within a community or health organization can also serve as an excellent entry point to build experience in the field.

Progressing through Levels in The Field of Community Health Worker

To progress through the field of CHW, additional education, certification, and experience become essential. With additional education, CHWs can qualify for specialist roles in areas such as public health nursing, health education, or patient advocacy. Additionally, CHWs can progress into higher-level management positions such as a supervisor, program coordinator or director, or even work their way up to executive positions.

Community Health Workers play a critical role in bridging gaps in healthcare delivery in diverse communities. The unique approach of CHWs, combining both the health and social services is essential in our current healthcare system. By ensuring access to care, promoting healthy behavior, and helping to manage chronic conditions, CHWs take care closer to people who need it most.

Occupation Job Level Salary Range (National Average) Union Influence on Salary Geographies with Best and Least Pay
Community health workers Level 05-07, Not able to be leveled, Entry, Intermediate $35,547.20 – $52,728.00 Nonunion: $47,985.60 / Union not specified Best Pay: New York-NJ-PA – $56,347.20 / Least Pay: Mississippi – $36,649.60

Community health workers, on average, earn a salary between $35,547.20 and $52,728.00 in the US National Average. The salary ranges between different job levels, with the highest pay found at Level 07 and Intermediate level, while the lowest pay is at Level 05 and Entry level. It is notable that some workers are not able to be leveled. The occupation may or may not have an impact from unions, depending on the location and the policies involved. In some cases, a nonunion community health worker earns an average salary of $47,985.60.

The salary range for this job also varies by location. One of the places where community health workers earn the highest pay is in the New York-Newark-Jersey City area, where they earn an average of $56,347.20. On the other hand, they earn the least in Mississippi with an average salary of $36,649.60.

In conclusion, being a community health worker can be rewarding and impactful, but the salary range could fluctuate depending on location, job level, and union presence in the area.