WHAT, EXACTLY, IS A COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER?
Community Health Worker (CHW) is an umbrella term. Their job titles are as diverse as the communities, sites and roles in which CHWs serve. CHWs focus on improving individual and community health and health access. They forge connections where people live, learn, work, worship and heal, from the inner city to rural communities (c3project.org). Just as CHW job titles vary, so do the roles, populations of focus and specific responsibilities. However, roles tend to fall within the following:
One thing is well known — CHWs are a rapidly growing component of the healthcare workforce in this country. The U.S. Department of Labor anticipates an 18% increase in the CHW workforce between 2016-2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Because there is so much variation within the CHW workforce, which job roles fall under the community health worker umbrella term can be confusing. The Community Health Worker Core Consensus Project (C3 Project) has worked to address that confusion by creating alignment of CHW roles, competencies and qualities. You can learn more about that work at the C3Project website.