Become a Community Health Worker in Idaho

Did you know that there are over 50 job titles for a Community Health Worker (CHW)? From Promotora de Salud, to Case Work Aide, to Community Care Coordinator, there is no “one size fits all” job title. But whatever the title, the roles a CHW plays are many and they touch the patient’s entire range of healthcare needs: from medication adherence to patient advocacy, diabetes management to oral health.

These roles hold true for CHW’s trained here in Idaho. Since the beginning of the State Healthcare Innovation Plan (SHIP), CHW courses held through Idaho State University have trained nearly 50 CHWs throughout the state. These CHWs come from a variety of organizations from large hospital systems (St. Alphonsus), Indian Health Clinics (Nimiipuu Health), and free medical clinics (Genesis Community Health), to community-based agencies like the Community Council of Idaho, the Agency for New Americans, and the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force.

A CHW’s Scope of Work

CHWs have a complementary scope of work to clinics that varies among organizations; it can consist of a variety of functions including but not limited to: coordinating care for vulnerable populations, enrolling people into health insurance plans, and providing informal counseling and health screenings. The graphic below shows the range of CHWs’ roles as they relate to the model of the continuum of care (as outlined by the CDC CHW eLearning modules).

Social and behavioral factors influence the health status of all patient populations and can create health inequalities across regions and states. CHWs contribute to efforts to eliminate persistent health inequities that exist throughout Idaho. Over the past nine months SHIP-trained CHWs have served 2,144 unique patients, provided 277 outreach and educational events, and had contact with almost 6,000 patients throughout Idaho.

Whatever the roles, the goals of CHWs everywhere remain the same: to promote, support, and advocate the work of their members who help all patients whether children, adults, or entire families gain, use, and retain quality health care and social and community services.

Idaho needs more Community Health Workers. If you’re interested in becoming a CHW or would like more information about their roles, please contact Madeline Russell at the Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care at Madeline.Russell@dhw.idaho.gov or 208-334-5594.