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Community Health Care Worker

The Community Health Worker certificate prepares you to perform a broad range of human services functions to help patients manage their health care, understand choices and obtain services. Community health workers are employed by a variety of community agencies and health care organizations to fill a vital role in the health care system.

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Community Health Care Worker

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Community health workers (CHWs) perform a broad range of health-related functions and play an important role in bridging the gap between cultures and health care systems. They work with health care organizations to accomplish a number of crucial tasks, including:

  • Increasing cultural competence
  • Improving access to health care for racial and ethnic minorities
  • Improving the quality of care for the chronically ill
  • Promoting health communities
  • Educating families about the best ways to access and use health care coverage

After completing 17.5 semester credits and meeting all competencies required by the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance, you will be prepared for employment as a community health worker.


Community Health Worker Certificate (17.5 credits) Program Planning Guide

The Community Health Worker certificate prepares you for an entry-level position in community health care and social service agencies. As a community health worker (CHW), you will provide basic health advising and promotion while linking community members to health and social service systems.

This certificate provides a blend of instructional and field-based learning that incorporates effective training environments for learners interested in becoming community health workers. Community health workers act as cultural brokers between their own community and systems of care.

Community Health Worker Curriculum (17.5 credits)

Course Number Title Credits
CMHW 1000 The Community Health Worker Role: Advocacy and Outreach 3 cr
CMHW 1015 Organization and Resources: Community and Personal Strategies 2 cr
CMHW 1025 Community Health Worker’s Role in Teaching and Capacity Building 2 cr
CMHW 1035 The Community Health Worker: Legal and Ethical Responsibilities 1 cr
CMHW 1045 Community Health Worker: Coordination, Documentation, and Reporting 1 cr
CMHW 1055 Communication Skills and Cultural Competence 2 cr
CMHW 1065 Health Promotion Competencies: Healthy Lifestyles 0.5cr
CMHW 1070 Health Promotion Competencies: Heart Disease and Stroke 0.5cr
CMHW 1075 Health Promotion Competencies: Maternal/Child/Teen 0.5cr
CMHW 1080 Health Promotion Competencies: Diabetes 0.5cr
CMHW 1085 Health Promotion Competencies: Cancer 0.5cr
CMHW 1090 Health Promotion Competencies: Oral Health 0.5cr
CMHW 1095 Health Promotion Competencies: Mental Health 0.5cr

Electives: choose from one of the following (3 credits)

COMM 1110 Public Speaking 3 cr
COMM 2240 Intercultural Communication 3 cr
HSER 1104 Multicultural Awareness in the Helping Profession 3 cr
Total Credits: 17.5
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Course Descriptions

CMHW 1000  The Community Health Worker: Role, Advocacy & Outreach   3.0 cr

Focuses on the community health worker's personal safety, self-care, and personal wellness, and their role in the promotion of health and disease prevention for clients. Course includes classroom time plus 40 hours of internship field work.

CMHW 1015  Organization & Resources: Community & Personal Strategies   2.0 cr

Focuses on the Community Health Worker's knowledge of the community and the ability to prioritize and organize work. Emphasis is on the use and critical analysis of resources and problem solving. Course includes classroom time plus 40 hours of internship field work. Prereq: CMHW 1000 or concurrent enrollment in CMHW 1000.

CMHW 1025  Community Health Worker's Role in Teaching and Capacity Building   2.0 cr

Focuses on the Community Health Worker's role in teaching and increasing the capacity of the community and of the client to access the health care system. Emphasis is on establishing healthy lifestyles and clients' developing agreements to take responsibility for achieving health goals. Students will learn and practice methods for planning, developing and implementing plans with clients to promote wellness.

CMHW 1035  The Community Health Worker: Legal and Ethical Responsibilities   1.0 cr

Focuses on the legal and ethical dimensions of the Community Health Workers' role. The student will study the boundaries of the Community Health Worker position, agency policies, confidentiality, liability, mandatory reporting and cultural issues that can influence legal and ethical responsibilities.

CMHW 1045  Community Health Worker: Coordination, Documentation and Reporting   1.0 cr

Focuses on the importance and ability of the community health worker to gather, document and report on client visits and other activities. The emphasis is on appropriate, accurate and clear documentation with consideration of legal and agency requirements.

CMHW 1055  Communication Skills and Cultural Competence   2.0 cr

Provides the content and skills in communication to assist community health workers in effectively interacting with a variety of clients, their families and a range of healthcare providers. You will learn about communicating verbally and nonverbally, listening and interviewing, networking, building trust and working in teams. You will practice communication skills in the context of a community's culture and the cultural implications that can affect client communication.

CMHW 1065  Health Promotion Competencies: Healthy Lifestyles   0.5 cr

Focuses on the knowledge and skills a Community Health Worker (CHW) needs to assist clients in realizing healthy eating patterns, controlling their weight, integrating exercise into their lives, taking their medications, talking with their doctors, controlling substances such as tobacco, managing stress, achieving life balance, and attaining personal and family wellness. Emphasis will be on learning strategies that can be used to aid in client awareness, their education and incorporation of health into their daily living. This course also provides information and activities in which the CHW can assimilate these concepts into their own lives.

CMHW 1070  Health Promotion Competencies:Heart Disease & Stroke   0.5 cr

Focuses on Community Health Workers (CHWs) working with clients and community members in preventing heart disease and stroke as well as working with those who already have heart disease, or who have already had a heart attack or stroke. Emphasized is an understanding of the physiology of the heart, risk factors and warning signs for heart disease and stroke, emotional and socio-economic impact of heart disease and stroke and the common treatments. Also included are strategies for CHWs to work with clients on prevention, achieving healthy lifestyles, and accessing needed resources.

CMHW 1075  Health Promotion Competencies: Maternal/Child/Teen   0.5 cr

Emphasizes the needs and requirements to support the health of mothers and their children. Emphasis is on knowledge and skills related to the stages of motherhood including prenatal care, labor and delivery and the post-partum experience and the cultural implications of birthing. Also included are the benefits of breastfeeding and the nutritional needs of mothers and infants. Emphasis is also on the lifecycle of the child from infant to teen including developmental stages and their tasks. Issues such as sexuality, family planning, STDs, substance abuse and domestic violence as well as the resources needed by mothers and their children are also discussed.

CMHW 1080  Health Promotion Competencies: Diabetes   0.5 cr

Focuses on the role of the Community Health Worker in working with clients with diabetes. Emphasis is on understanding diabetes, its risk factors, signs and diagnoses, and the long term complications. Strategies for assisting diabetic clients with balancing their lives to achieve their highest level of wellness is a primary focus. The role of the CHW in diabetes prevention, control, resource identification and education is also included.

CMHW 1085  Health Promotion Competencies: Cancer   0.5 cr

Focuses on the role of the Community Health Worker (CHW) when working with cancer clients and their families. Emphasis is on understanding cancer, its risk factors, the screening tests for diagnosis, and the types of treatments clients may be experiencing. Understanding the emotional factors involved in a cancer diagnosis and the cultural impact of that diagnosis and treatment is included. The role of CHWs is to help identify resources and provide access to those resources as well as give aid and support to cancer client s and their families.

CMHW 1090  Health Promotion Competencies: Oral Health   0.5 cr

Focuses on a broad range of topics needed to understand and promote oral health. Included are dental anatomy, infection control, oral hygiene instruction and care plus a guide for parents, use of fluoride and dental caries prevention, as well as nutrition required for good oral health. Insurance access for dental care and oral health is covered and the identification of resources that can be provided by Community Health Workers to promote optimal levels of oral health for their clients, their families and in their communities.

CMHW 1095  Health Promotion Competencies: Mental Health   0.5 cr

Provides Community Health Workers (CHWs) with an introduction to mental health and illness. Emphasis is on the CHW's role in promoting mental health across cultures and decreasing the stigma of mental illness. Specific knowledge and skills focus on recognizing possible signs of mental illness and early intervention, being aware of the ethical and legal aspects of working with clients and mental illness, identifying mental health resources, referring clients and assisting them with access to resources. This course also provides opportunities for the CHW to promote mental health of self, clients, families and communities.

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Employment Information

According to the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance, "Community Health Workers (CHWs) are trusted, knowledgeable frontline health personnel who typically come from the communities they serve. CHWs bridge cultural and linguistic barriers, expand access to coverage and care, and improve health outcomes. As critical links between their communities and the health care system, CHWs reduce health disparities; boost health care quality, cultural competence and affordability; and empower individuals and communities for better health."

Earning your Community Health Worker certificate at Inver Hills can open doors to a number of careers, including:

Career resources

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Why Inver Hills?

Completing your Community Health Worker certificate obligations at Inver Hills is smart on several key levels:

  1. You will receive an outstanding education with one-on-one interactions with Community Health Worker faculty
  2. You will benefit from small class sizes while developing practical, real-world CHW skills
  3. You will save money and continue your academic and professional careers with less student debt *

* On a national scale, student loan debt has mushroomed to $1.2 trillion, which is greater than credit card debt and auto loan debt combined. In Minnesota, the average debt for four-year grads tops $30,000; 70 percent carry a student debt load.

Tuition and fees for one year at Inver Hills costs a little less than $5,300. Compare that to $15,000 to $20,000 at a for-profit college, or $40,000 to $50,000 at a private college or university. You can complete your first two years at Inver getting a topflight education firsthand from Ph.D. instructors and then transfer to a four-year as a junior all while saving thousands of dollars. It's a no-brainer.

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