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CHW Education

CHWs bring rich life experience to their work that cannot be taught in a classroom.

Each is able to serve their community best by relating their own experience to those of their clients. In addition, CHWs gain additional knowledge and skills through a 90 hour training program through Oregon Community Health Workers Association This training program is often paid for by an organization or scholarship. Continuing education programs for CHWs are offered statewide.

CHWs are just one of many specialties within what Oregon has termed Traditional Health Workers (THWs).

The state of Oregon has supported the incorporation of Traditional Health Workers within recent healthcare reform development. THWs who are certified by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) are eligible to be funded by Medicaid. There is no fee to apply for certification as a CHW but there may be an additional charge for fingerprinting.

There are 5 different types of Traditional Health Worker (THW) defined by OHA.

  • Community Health Worker (CHW) or Community Education Worker (CEW): frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the community served.
  • Birth Doula: a birth companion who provides personal, nonmedical support to women and families throughout a woman’s pregnancy, childbirth, and post-partum experience.
  • Peer support specialist (PSS): any of [a range of] individuals who provide supportive services to a current or former consumer of mental health or addiction treatment.
  • Peer Wellness Specialist (PWS): an individual who has lived experience of a psychiatric condition(s) plus intensive training, who works as part of a person-driven, health home team, integrating behavioral health and primary care to assist and advocate for individuals in achieving well-being.
  • Personal health navigator (PHN): an individual who provides information, assistance, tools and support to enable a patient to make the best health care decisions.

There are estimated to be several thousand CHWs in the state of Oregon. 

CHWs are highly versatile and work in various organizations and in a variety of roles.  CHWs are valuable in both rural and metropolitan communities.

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