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Community Health Worker (CHW)

 

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 Community Health Worker

Program Overview

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Community Health Worker (CHW) is a non-credit program offered by Berkshire Community College. The CHW program provides rigorous training for public health workers to serve as advocates and liaisons between traditionally underserved populations and health/social service providers. Such public health workers include but are not limited to community health workers, case coordinators, community coordinators, community health advisors, community health representatives, community liaisons, family service coordinators, home visitors, parent aides, patient navigators, promodoras, promotor(a)s de salud, outreach advocates, outreach educators, prevention coordinators, street outreach workers, youth workers, community health assistants, community engagement specialists, health promoters, etc. The program may be of benefit to those who are exploring educational and career pathways in community health, human services, health care, or public health.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of skills do I develop in the Community Health Worker program? 

    The program focuses on ten core competencies for community health work identified by the Massachusetts Board of Certification of Community Health Workers: (1) outreach methods and strategies, (2) individual and community assessment, (3) effective communication, (4) cultural responsiveness and mediation, (5) education to promote healthy behavior change, (6) care coordination and system navigation, (7) use of public health concepts and approaches, (8) advocacy and community capacity building, (9) documentation, and (10) professional skills and conduct.  

    The program addresses essential health topics relevant to community health work in Berkshire County such as chronic diseases (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, etc.), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco, opioids, etc.), physical and mental disabilities, reproductive health issues, domestic violence, mental health, trauma. The program also focuses on community health work in emergency and disaster situations. The program participants will learn the basics of contact tracing for preventing the spread of infectious diseases.  

  • Who are community health workers?   

    Based on the definition provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, community health workers (CHWs) promote health within a community by assisting individuals to adopt healthy behaviors. They also serve as advocates for the health needs of individuals by assisting community residents in effectively communicating with healthcare providers or social service agencies. CHWs act as liaisons or advocates and implement programs that promote, maintain, and improve individual and overall community health. They may deliver health-related preventive services such as blood pressure, glaucoma, and hearing screenings and may collect data to help identify community health needs. You can learn more about Community Health Workers, their job responsibilities, career outlook, and employment opportunities in Massachusetts at the MA Association of Community Health Workers website 

  • How long is the program and where are all the classes held?   

    The program includes 42 hours of face-to-face instruction, 42 hours of online instruction through a learning management system (Moodle), and 10 hours of fieldwork at a local non-profit organization. Face-to-face class is three hours and it is held once a week on Thursdays on BCC campus in Pittsfield from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  The program uses teaching methods appropriate for adult learning: experiential learning, interactive discussions, project-based assignments, group work, solution-centered activities, etc. The program relies on local experts in community health to present and explain health issues and existing community resources to the program participants. The content is designed by public health professionals and delivered by specialists directly involved in community health work in Berkshire County. Each of the core competencies for community health work will be evaluated through assessment tools and a final project. Participants who pass the course with least at 80% rate (based on attendance and assessment results) will receive a certificate of completion from Berkshire Community College. 

  • Is there any fieldwork involved in the training?   

    CHW fieldwork is an important part of the program as it exposes participants to an organization/agency (site) that is directly involved in frontline community health work. Each program participant is required to complete at least 10 hours of fieldwork at a local organization or agency working in community health. The main goal of the fieldwork experience is to learn about community health work at the selected site through background research before commencing the fieldwork and shadowing community health professionals at the site for at least ten hours. CHW program participants will select their fieldwork sites from a list approved by BCC CHW program. Each organization/agency has an affiliation agreement with BCC. Any new sites should be approved through BCC.  

  • Do I need to submit immunization records and pass a background check?   

    Berkshire Community College requires all students pass a CORI check before they start their fieldwork if they work with patients or clients. BCC will take care of all the paperwork related to the CORI check. Some sites may require certain immunizations or additional background checks. 

    Immunization records and background check may be waived if fieldwork is done online, or if the participant is not working directly with patients and clients.

     

     

  • How much does the program cost?   

    Total program cost is $1,545 

     

  • Is there any financial assistance for this program?   

    MassHire Berkshire Career Center may be able to assist those in need of financial assistance, please email jaubin@masshireberkshirecc.com to see if you meet eligibility requirements. Please email Elena Nuciforo at enuciforo@berkshirecc.edu if you have questions about paying for the program. 

     

  • Can I enroll in the program if I am still in high school?   

    The Community Health Worker program is open to high school juniors and seniors with parental permission. 

     

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