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Community Health Worker

Community Health Workers (CHWs) help to connect community members to available services and resources. They provide benefits to individuals, communities, providers, and payers. Since CHWs are often members of the communities they serve, and rural communities typically have strong community connections, CHWs have an opportunity to:

  • Develop trusting, one-on-one relationships with patients
  • Act as a liaison between the healthcare system, patients, and families/caregivers
  • Gain support from other organizations serving the community
  • Strengthen care coordination by connecting patients with available healthcare and social support services
  • Extend the reach of healthcare providers and services, which is particularly helpful in areas with shortages of providers
  • Deliver services that are appropriate based on the patient's language and culture
  • Give back to their communities

CHWs are widely known to improve the health of their communities by linking their neighbors to health care and social services, educating their peers about disease and injury prevention, working to make health services more accessible, and by mobilizing their communities to create positive change.  

CHWs are lay members of the community who work in association with the local health care system in both urban and rural environments. CHWs usually share ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, and life experiences with the community members they serve. CHWs offer interpretation and translation services, provide culturally appropriate health education and information, help people get the care they need, give informal counseling and guidance on health behaviors, advocate for individual and community health needs, and provide some direct services such as first aid and blood pressure screening.  

CHW Roles

  1. Cultural Mediation among Individuals, Communities, and Health and Social Service Systems
  2. Providing Culturally Appropriate Health Education and Information
  3. Care Coordination, Case Management, and System Navigation
  4. Providing Coaching and Social Support
  5. Advocating for Individuals and Communities
  6. Building Individual and Community Capacity
  7. Providing Direct Service
  8. Implementing Individual and Community Assessments
  9. Conducting Outreach
  10. Participating in Evaluation and Research  

CHW Skills

Communication Skills

  • Ability to:
    • Use language confidently
    • Use language in ways that engage and motivate
    • Communicate using plain and clear language
    • Communicate with empathy
    • Listen actively
    • Prepare written communication including electronic communication (e.g., email, telecommunication device for the deaf)
    • Document work
    • Communicate with the community served (may not be fluent in language of all communities served)

Interpersonal and Relationship-Building Skills

  • Ability to:
    • Provide coaching and social support
    • Conduct self-management coaching
    • Use interviewing techniques (e.g. motivational interviewing)
    • Work as a team member
    • Manage conflict
    • Practice cultural humility  

Service Coordination and Navigation Skills

  • Ability to:
    • Coordinate care (including identifying and accessing resources and overcoming barriers)
    • Make appropriate referrals
    • Facilitate development of an individual and/or group action plan and goal attainment
    • Coordinate CHW activities with clinical and other community services
    • Follow-up and track care and referral outcomes  

Capacity Building Skills

  • Ability to:
    • Help others identify goals and develop to their fullest potential
    • Work in ways that increase individual and community empowerment
    • Network, build community connections, and build coalitions
    • Teach self-advocacy skills
    • Conduct community organizing  

Advocacy Skills

  • Ability to:
    • Contribute to policy development
    • Advocate for policy change
    • Speak up for individuals and communities  

Education and Facilitation Skills

  • Ability to:
    • Use empowering and learner-centered teaching strategies
    • Use a range of appropriate and effective educational techniques
    • Facilitate group discussions and decision-making
    • Plan and conduct classes and presentations for a variety of groups
    • Seek out appropriate information and respond to questions about pertinent topics
    • Find and share requested information
    • Collaborate with other educators
    • Collect and use information from and with community members  

Individual and Community Assessment Skills

  • Ability to:
    • Participate in individual assessment through observation and active inquiry
    • Participate in community assessment through observation and active inquiry  

Outreach Skills

  • Ability to:
    • Conduct case-finding, recruitment and follow-up
    • Prepare and disseminate materials
    • Build and maintain a current resources inventory  

Professional Skills and Conduct

  • Ability to:
    • Set goals and to develop and follow a work plan
    • Balance priorities and to manage time
    • Apply critical thinking techniques and problem solving
    • Use pertinent technology
    • Pursue continuing education and life-long learning opportunities
    • Maximize personal safety while working in community and/or clinical settings
    • Observe ethical and legal standards (e.g. CHW Code of Ethics, Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA], Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA])
    • Identify situations calling for mandatory reporting and carry out mandatory reporting requirements
    • Participate in professional development of peer CHWs and in networking among CHW groups
    • Set boundaries and practice self-care

Evaluation and Research Skills

  • Ability to:
    • Identify important concerns and conduct evaluation and research to better understand root causes
    • Apply the evidence-based practices of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and Participatory Action Research (PAR)
    • Participate in evaluation and research processes including:
      1. Identifying priority issues and evaluation/research questions
      2. Developing evaluation/research design and methods
      3. Data collection and interpretation
      4. Sharing results and findings
      5. Engaging stakeholders to take action on findings

Knowledge Base

  • Knowledge of:
    • Social determinants of health and related disparities
    • Pertinent health issues
    • Healthy lifestyles and self-care
    • Mental/behavioral health issues and their connection to physical health   
    • Health behavior theories
    • Basic public health principles  
    • The community served    
    • United States health and social service systems  

Basic Skills

Public Health

  • CDC's Introduction to Public Health: This training introduces public health core functions and essential services.  It discusses key public health terms, historical developments from four public health perspectives and determinants of health and their effects on population health.
  • This is Public Health - YouTube: The “This is Public Health” Campaign was designed by Association of Schools of Public Health to let people know that public health effects them on a daily basis and that we are only as healthy as the world we live in.  Join this national effort to promote public health awareness in your community.

Education and Facilitation Skills

  • 5 Stages of Change & The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) - Do you Know the Fundamentals?: Teaching others to learn and apply the fundamentals of behavioral health evidence = based theories and best practices is using the most impactful work from experts in the field and put them into the hands of practitioners, coaches, and educators at all levels of knowledge, skills, and experience, and increase their effectiveness.  

Outreach Skills

Professional Skills and Conduct

  • Boundary Setting for Community Health Workers - Georgia CHW Professional Development Opportunities - Zoom: This Georgia Community Health Worker professional development zoom recording goes over how CHW can set boundaries, communicate CHW boundaries, differentiate between professional and personal roles, ethical dilemmas in setting boundaries, and enhance confidence in ability to set boundaries.
  • Do No Harm - ODMHSAS: This program is a highly informative and current review of the evidence- based guidelines to support reasonable and effective responses to the opioid crisis. The program is comprised of Module1: The Guidelines; Module 2: Epidemic; Module 3: Pain; Module 4: Analgesia; Module 5; patient Engagement; and Module 6: Practice systems.
    • ODMHSAS, in partnership with the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center and the OU-TU School of Community Medicine, hosts a comprehensive six module CME program titled Do No Harm: Putting Safer Pain Management Into Practice. The program is a highly informative and current review of the evidence-based guidelines to support reasonable and effective responses to the opioid crisis. Please note - you need to create a login with ODMHSAS when you access this course.



  • Community Health Worker (CHW) Toolkit: Tobacco Cessation: Developed by the Center for Community Health Department’s National Community Health Worker Training Center, the Community Health Worker (CHW) Toolkit: Tobacco Cessation provides Community Health Workers (CHWs) with a guide for utilizing useful tobacco cessation resources. CHWs may use this toolkit to disseminate valuable tobacco cessation information to vulnerable populations.
  • Smoking, Nicotine, and the Brain: Provided by the California Smokers’ Helpline and Center for Tobacco Cessation, this toolkit provides webinars and materials that review the mechanisms through which Tobacco and related products deliver nicotine, which neural pathways nicotine exerts is effects on the brain, and tobacco product use cessation strategies.
  • What Works? Evidence-Based Tobacco Treatments: Provided by the California Smokers’ Helpline and Center for Tobacco Cessation, this toolkit provides references for helping your patients quit smoking with a list of frequently asked questions and answers on the back.
  • Tobacco Cessation Barriers 101: The Impact on Quitting: This webinar discusses common barriers to tobacco cessation services in state Medicaid programs. The webinar also discusses the impact each barrier has on helping people quit smoking.
  • Addressing the Youth Tobacco Use Epidemic: This webcast explores the ways two state health departments are working to help kids quit tobacco amidst the current youth e-cigarette use epidemic.
  • The Role of Telehealth in Tobacco Cessation: This webinar explores how telehealth can be used to improve access to tobacco cessation. Telehealth has potential to improve access in communities that have a lack of providers, for patients with limited mobility, and for individuals who wish to minimize the time spent receiving care.
  • Top Tips for Motivating Smokers to Quit: This webinar explores hands-on strategies for motivating patients to quit ips to increase motivation such as: instilling hope, conveying understanding, addressing ambivalence, reframing quitting “failures” as successes, encouraging patients’ own decision-making, assisting with a quit plan comprised of proven methods, and following up with patients to assess and maintain motivation

Webinars (Fee Required)

  • Smoke-free Public Housing: Helping Residents Quit Tobacco: This webinar discusses best practices to help residents of public housing access smoking cessation services and resources to refer residents to for smoking cessation information or services.
  • Connecting to Care – How to Leverage Quitlines to Better Support Your Clients: This webinar discusses best practices to motivate patients to increase use of quitline services for successful tobacco cessation.
  • No Menthol Sunday: Now More Than Ever!: This webinar discusses the tobacco industry’s tactic to author misinformation and utilize flavors like menthol to addict our youth to vaping and other tobacco products like cigarillos.  





Physical Activity

Mental Health

Chronic Illness


Heart Disease





Physical Activity

Healthy Lifestyles




Physical Activity

Training Packages


  • Community Health Worker (CHW) Toolkit: Tobacco Cessation: Developed by the Center for Community Health Department’s National Community Health Worker Training Center, the Community Health Worker (CHW) Toolkit: Tobacco Cessation provides Community Health Workers (CHWs) with a guide for utilizing useful tobacco cessation resources. CHWs may use this toolkit to disseminate valuable tobacco cessation information to vulnerable populations. 

University of Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma Public Health Training Center Trainings for Community Health Workers in Oklahoma: This series of trainings is being developed for Community Health Workers, Community Health Representatives, and Promotores de Salud in Oklahoma. Training topics align with the CHW core roles and competencies as described in the Community Health Worker Core Consensus (C3) Project (C3 Project). The trainings are at no cost to participants. Classes are grant funded by the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in partnership with the Oklahoma City  County Health Department and the Tulsa Health Department. 
  • Oklahoma Public Health Training Center Webinars: The University of Oklahoma Public Health Training Center offers monthly webinars for Community Health Workers over a variety of topics. This link will take you to past webinars and dates to future webinars.