Community Health Worker Training

What is a Community Health Worker?

The American Public Health Association (APHA) defines a CHW as “a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. The CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.”[i]

Why train Community Health Workers?

The roles of Community Health Workers are tailored to the communities that they serve. Generally, CHWs promote access to services, provide health education, support care delivery, and promote advocacy. Since CHWs are typically community members, they have strong community connections and greater opportunities to build relationships and extend the reach of healthcare services. Research consistently demonstrates that CHWs increase care outcomes and quality of care in rural populations. The training and retention of CHWs is essential for improving healthcare for rural Montanans.

About the training

The Montana Community Health Worker (CHW) Fundamentals training provides the knowledge and skills necessary to become a Community Health Worker. The instructor-guided curriculum takes approximately seven weeks (85 hours) to complete and consists of four 15-hour Learning Modules and a 25-hour on-the-job Supervised Experience taken at the completion of the four Modules. Each Module contains written content, videos, application activities, case studies and reflective journaling. An individual will gain skills in the following areas: professional skills & conduct; communication; self-care; interpersonal relationships; outreach, navigation & coordination; organization; advocacy; capacity building & teaching. The CHW training is facilitated by an instructor and provides a certificate upon completion. *A trainee must be sponsored by an employer prior to beginning the training, as the 25-hour Supervised Experience is required to complete the course.

Employer information

An employer must formally sponsor a trainee prior to the start of the training. It is vital that the employer has the resources necessary for the trainee to meet the Supervised Experience required activities. The CHW “Manual for Supervised Experience” is available for sponsoring Facilities/Agencies, Instructors, and Preceptors. Scholarships to cover the cost of the training are available through the BHWET grant funded by HRSA. The host facility will pay the participant’s training cost upfront and then would be reimbursed upon the participant’s completion of the training.



  • A high school diploma or GED is preferred
  • All trainees must be sponsored by an employer, as 25 hours of supervised experience are required to complete the training.
  • If needed, completion of a Computer Literacy Assessment & Training.
  • Employers may have additional requirements (talk to your employer).

What is the cost of the training?

The cost of the training is $2,000 per participant. Training fees are due at enrollment. Scholarships to cover the training cost are available upon successful completion of the training.

About the instructor

Heidi Blossom, MSN, RN, worked in developing the Community Health Worker training program. Ms. Blossom has taught as an adjunct Professor of Nursing at Carroll College, in Helena, Montana, and has developed curriculum for nursing students as well as education majors. She collaborated with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows program to develop a guide for Community Health Workers, “Building a Community Health Worker Program.” She holds a BA in Nursing from Carroll College, Helena, MT, and an MSN from Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, in Nursing Education.


Link to State AHEC CHW web-page:

Link to April 25, 2022 Community Health Worker Cohort Registration


[i] American Public Health Association Policy Statement 2009-1, November 2009

For more information, contact: Eastern MT AHEC at RiverStone Health, 406.247.3285 or