The Iowa Chronic Care Consortium, a nonprofit organization dedicated to health risk reduction and chronic care management strategies, announced it has launched Iowa’s first Community Health Worker Professional Skills Training initiative.

The program, designed to address the shortage of front-line community health workers, is the result of a multiyear collaboration with the Iowa Community Health Worker Alliance, Iowa Workforce Development and Des Moines Area Community College. Four Central Iowa nonprofit partner organizations  Primary Health Care Inc., UnityPoint Clinic-Des Moines, One Iowa and the Dallas County Health Department  have enrolled staff members in the inaugural training.

A CHW is defined as “a trusted member of the community [who] has an unusually close understanding of the community served,” which enables them to serve as a link between health and social services and the community to improve the quality of service delivery. 

“Community health workers can improve health, reduce costs and address health disparities,” said William Applegate, executive director and CEO of ICCC. “This is why we are so pleased to launch a program that will provide a fulfilling career in health care and make a tremendous difference in providing vital services to Iowans.”

Despite the growing demand for community health workers — one of the fastest growing components of the health care workforce in the U.S.  there have been few training opportunities for CHWs, particularly in Iowa, the organization said.

The program launch follows a statewide needs assessment and successful pilot training, with financial support from health care foundation Telligen Community Initiative, as well as from an anonymous donor. 

The Iowa Chronic Care Consortium also gained approval from the U.S. Department of Labor to create a Registered CHW Apprenticeship Program. The program involves structured on-the-job learning combined with a related formal instructional program. The 147-hour related instruction program includes 34 hours of online learning, along with reading, practical exercises and assignments.

The initial CHW Professional Skills Training and the CHW Registered Apprenticeship Program launched in July 2019, and new training cycles are scheduled for 2020. For registration or additional information, contact Deb Kazmerzak at deb.kazmerzak@iowaccc.com or 515-554-3788.