What Do Community Health Workers Do?
In order to keep people fit and well, community health workers aid and advise communities and the individuals within them to adopt healthier behaviors. You’ll assist organizations and medical personnel in implementing health improvement programs. Acting as an informal counselor and educator, you’ll give social support to community members and help them access medical care, as well as provide basic wellness services and gather information to figure out better ways to improve community health.Efforts by the government and the medical community to raise quality of life and reduce healthcare costs by promoting healthy habits means this is a rapidly growing field. The number of community health worker positions is expected to rise by 25%, with over 2,000 new jobs opening annually nationwide.
Community Health Workers Skills and Abilities
In addition to basic medical and biology knowledge, community health workers have to be proficient in working with people. You must have excellent communication skills, both to offer information and guidance, and also to listen to problems and understand feelings in order to help people work through them. Since you’ll be advising and explaining healthier behaviors to people, you’ll need to understand principles of education and teaching.
Community Health Workers Duties
The primary responsibilities of a community health worker involve working with community members to understand and advise them on better health practices. This can include distributing brochures and other readings, talking to individuals in person or over the phone and email and referring them to specific health services when needed, translating health-related info, and leading classes and special events like fairs. You’ll be promoting various aspects of care, like diagnostic screenings for medical conditions, risk prevention for conditions like HIV or lead poisoning, the importance of immunizations, sanitation and hygiene such as flossing, and nutrition.Where needed, you’ll provide basic health care services like first aid and diagnostic procedures such as blood pressure and breast cancer screenings, as well as conducting home visits and conveying clients to medical appointments. You’ll also collect information about the community to better understand the relevant health issues, by compiling vital statistics of the members, attending community meetings and helping identify and contact high-risk populations. In addition to assisting community members, you’ll also work with local health service providers to improve their accessibility and outreach.
Community Health Workers Tools and Technology
Community health workers must be comfortable with electronic communications, working with computer software such as email, internet browsers and word processors. You’ll use digital calendars for scheduling appointments and databases for recording client information. In the course of aiding the community, you may utilize various medical apparatuses, including:
- Automated electronic blood pressure cuffs
- Emergency first aid kits
- Blood glucose monitors to screen and assist diabetics
Education and Training for Community Health Workers
The majority of community health worker positions require only a high school diploma or equivalent, though having a bachelor degree in health, nutrition or a related field can give you an advantage. There will usually be a brief period of on-the-job training after hiring.
Community Health Workers Salary
Health worker salaries are largely dependent on the community in question, and whether you are hired by a hospital, private business, educational institute, or a government or nonprofit organization. While the lower paying positions offer less than $21,000 yearly, the average pay is approximately $35,000 a year, with some workers making more than $60,000 a year.
Community Health Workers Jobs by Geography
Communities across the country employ health workers to help improve their members’ health. While states with larger populations such as California and Illinois have the most jobs, some of the best paying positions are found in areas such as Alaska, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia. In general, while you’ll have the best chance of finding employment in dense communities such as cities, there are potential positions nearly anywhere there are people.