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PA AHEC CHW Training & Education

Pennsylvania State Accredited Training
CHW Certification Training Course

 

The Pennsylvania Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) are an accredited Community Health Worker training organization through the Pennsylvania Certification Board. AHEC training programs are designed to provide the core competencies needed for work in community-based and inpatient settings.  This training also provides comprehensive information about accessing healthcare and other social/community resources which are specific to the region in the training location site.  

To see when information sessions and training classes are being held in your regions and across the state, please visit Upcoming Info Sessions or CHW Training Classes. Or if you're unsure of which region you live in, visit Regions

This training program meet educational requirements and standards for CHW certification in Pennsylvania. Areas of focus of AHEC training courses include: 

  • Community Health Worker Introduction & History

  • Communication, Networking & Conflict

  • Boundaries

  • Personal Safety

  • Building and Maintaining Relationships

  • HIPAA Privacy Rule

  • Health Literacy

 

  • Documentation

  • Chronic Disease

  • Motivational Interviewing

  • Preventive Care

  • Benefits Check up

  • Becoming a Healthier You

  • Accident Prevention

  • Opioid Brief Intervention

  • Every Smoker, Every Time

Additional Modules

  • Mental Health First Aid

  • CPR/AED/First Aid

  • Mandated Reporter

  • Harm Reduction

Course Tuition & Schedules

Courses are being held continuously across Pennsylvania, some are in-person and some are offered virtually. Schedules and cost vary by AHEC region, please select the region below nearest to where you work to find out more about trainings in your part of the state. Click here to find the AHEC region in which you work. 

Scholarships that cover the cost of tuition are available!

Regions Holding CHW Info Sessions & Classes
(click region for more info)
Admission Criteria

You must be at least 18 years old and have a desire to serve others. You do not need a high school diploma, GED or equivalent to take the AHEC CHW training classes. It is helpful to be aware, however, that many organizations employing CHWs often require a high school diploma/GED for employment. This may or may not be the case when it comes to volunteer opportunities, and you may want to ask about this if you are planning to work or volunteer as a community health worker.

Why this is important: For anyone pursuing CHW certification, there is a work/volunteer experience requirement that must be met to become certified. Click here for more info on CHW Certification.

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admission criteria
chronic disease
Continuing Education for CHWs

Certified Community Health Workers (CCHW) are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education relevant to community health, including 3 hours in ethics every two years. The recertification schedule is every two years from your initial certification date or most recent recertification date.

covid
COVID-19 Resources & Resilient Communities

The COVID Response & Resilient Communities (CCR) initiative builds upon the foundational knowledge and skills acquired through the AHEC 100-hour CHW training curriculum by deepening CHWs understanding of COVID-19 while taking a trauma-informed, compassionate approach to talking with and educating community members about the coronavirus and focusing on stress reduction and healthy coping strategies for CHWs as they do this vital work. 

COVID-19 CORE training sessions are 1.5 hours long and cover topics such as: 

  • Disease identification (acute and chronic symptoms, asymptomatic, risk factors for more significant outcomes)*

  • Isolation and quarantine procedures*

  • Testing methods - including PCR, rapid antigen, rapid PCR and home testing, specimen collection

  • Infection control

  • Vaccine options and availability

  • Vaccine hesitancy/confidence

  • Myths and misinformation

  • How to take and interpret a pulse ox reading

  • Special settings – long-term care, schools, childcare, group homes

CHW Certification

 

The PA Certification Board (PCB) has established the standards and criteria for a Certified Community Health Worker (CCHW) credential now available in Pennsylvania. Requirements for certification are outlined in three categories: Education, Experience, and Supervision. 

Education (click here for Continuing Education

75 total hours of education relevant to the field of community health work. Education is defined as formal, structured instruction in the form of workshops, trainings, seminars, in-services, college/university credit courses and online education. For example, most three-credit college/university courses are 45 hours. Education must be related to these eight domains: 

  1. Community Health Concepts

  2. Advocacy and Capacity Building

  3. Care Coordination

  4. Health Literacy and Education

  5. Safety and Self-Care

  6. Cultural Competency

  7. Communication and Interpersonal Skills

  8. Ethical Responsibilities and Professionalism

Experience

One (1) year of full-time volunteer or paid employment or 2000 hours of part-time of volunteer or paid employment.

 

Supervision

60 hours specific to the domains. Hours may be included in the total experience requirement.

For those pursuing CHW certification, please visit the PA Certification Board's website for the CHW Certification Application by following the link below.

https://www.pacertboard.org/cchw

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Advocacy

Advocacy is working with or on behalf of people to exercise their rights and gain access to resources.

 

CHWs sometimes speak up on behalf of their clients and their communities within their own agencies, with other service providers, and to support changes in public policies.  More importantly, CHWs support clients and communities in raising their own voices to create meaningful changes – including changes in public policies – that influence health and well-being. (Berthold, 2009)

CHW’s …

  1. Provide information and support for people to advocate for themselves overtime and to participate in the provision of improved services (MA)

  2. Advocate on the behalf of client s and communities, as appropriate, to assist people to attain needed care or resources in a resources in a reasonable and timely fashion (MA)

  3. Use a variety of strategies, such as role modeling, to support clients in meeting objectives depending on challenges and changing conditions. (MA)

  4. Defines, scope of practice for community health worker (MN)

  5. Identify and use 9-1-1system appropriately and ethically (MN)

  6. List personal safety strategies (MN)

  7. Create a personal safety plan (MN)

  8. Identify and recognize signs plan (MN)

  9. Identify and utilize coping strategies for managing stress and staying healthy (MN)\

  10. Define outreach and identify ways to connect with community (MN)

  11. Identify ways to connect with community (MN)

  12. Define advocacy (MN)

  13. Discuss strategy for effective advocacy work (MN)

  14. Ability to speak up for individuals for communities and withstand intimidation (TX)

  15. Ability to use language appropriately (TX)

  16. Ability to overcome barriers (TX)

Sustainable Financing for Community Health Workers in Pennsylvania
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Currently, 58% of PA CHW employers rely on grants to fund CHW positions, making long-term planning and continuity of programming tenuous. For fiscal sustainability, some states require their Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) to offer CHW-delivered services. In Ohio, all five MCOs possess value-based care (VBC) contracts with nationally certified Pathway Community HUBs (PCHs), which are local community- based organizations (CBOs) that engage multiple CHW employers to provide a structured, measurable, and value-based delivery system. Indiana, Nevada, and Minnesota have also submitted Medicaid state plan amendments (SPAs) that allow CHW reimbursement for preventive services. A PA strategy to address heath disparities and improve health outcomes must include steps to secure sustainable financing for CHWs.

Western PA CHW Collaborative Partners, headed by the folks at AHN Center for Inclusion Health, have conducted in initial Employer Financing Survey that will be used to advocate and inform 2023 PA DHS strategic priorities, the Office of Medical Assistance should support the sustainable
financing of CHWs for the purpose of reducing long-term Medicaid spending and improving health outcomes

advocacy

Community is at the heart of change. It is what informs and drives what's meaningful, and doable. Community capacity building is helping people develop the confidence and ability to assume increasing control over decisions and resources that affect their health and wellbeing.  Community capacity building involves promoting individual and collective empowerment through education, skill development, networking, organizing, and strategic partnerships. Capacity building requires planning, cooperation, and commitment, and it may involve working to change public awareness, organizational rules, institutional practices, or public policy.

For an idea of what this looks like in practice, visit the Collaborative Partners page. Each of the organizations listed there have worked with the PA AHEC system to train, prepare, and support folks for their work as CHWs in their respective communities. One instance is the group of CHWs supporting CHWs that started in the South Hills of Pittsburgh:

The Western PA CHW Share + Learn Group (Heather Sims, AHN Front Door)

If you would like to learn more about getting involved or how these organization are building and fostering a collaborative approach to community health, reach out and Contact Us to talk more

In our communities is also often where we recharge, whatever that looks like for you. Please feel free to help grow this (short) list of approaches to self-care by emailing Mike

5 Minutes of Mindfulness

Calming the Autonomic Nervous System (Innis Integrative BodyMind Therapy)

Self-care for CHWs (University of Minnesota)

community
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