CORE Training

C.O.R.E. — Building Skills and Talent for Community Health Workers (CHW)
CHW Professional Skills Training and CHW Registered Apprenticeship Program

CHW Registered DOL National Apprenticeship Training and a companion CHW Professional Skills Training offered beginning July 16, 2019. This robust 147-hour program is built upon 34 hours of online instruction, along with reading and assignments. Develops CHW professional talent in a range of areas to improve the health and well-being of individuals and their communities. Next training cycle to begin in March 2020. Contact: Deb Kazmerzak at or 515-554-3788 for details.


In our changing community healthcare environment, successful organizations are utilizing new strategies to reach the Triple Aim — improving the health of the population, enhancing the experience and outcomes of the patient, and reducing cost of care. Ensuring a trusted connection between social service and healthcare teams and community-based support for people and populations is a significant part of those efforts. One emerging care team role — the community health worker (CHW) — is particularly poised to contribute.

Community health workers are one of the fastest-growing components of the healthcare workforce. In fact, the US Department of Labor supported occupational resource O*Net gives community health workers a “Bright Outlook” ranking, meaning the profession is expected to grow faster than average. There are clear reasons for this.

  • CHWs provide an effective strategy to connect underserved individuals in a community to healthcare resources – providers and other neighborhood healthcare services – to lift the health status of these populations.
  • Individuals qualified or attributed to health plans, especially Medicare and Medicaid, profit from CHW assistance in navigating complex and often confounding health services which are available, and reaching individuals attributed but not actively engaged in care.
  • Health outcomes of many in our communities are dramatically influenced by Social Determinants of Health – such as housing, food and transportation – which CHWs are often skilled to address.

Despite the accelerating interest and demand for community health workers, there have been limited opportunities for training this emerging segment of the healthcare workforce, particularly in Iowa. In response, during 2016, 20 leading healthcare, academic, community service and public health organizations gathered to explore the role of community health workers and related roles in Iowa’s workforce. The Iowa Community Health Worker Alliance was subsequently formed with support from the Iowa Chronic Care Consortium (ICCC).

Following a series of interviews, research and needs assessment conducted statewide, the Community Health Worker Alliance and ICCC identified development of training for CHWs as its priority activity. With generous support from the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, the Iowa Chronic Care Consortium (ICCC) hosted a first training for CHWs in 2017.

The training, C.O.R.E.: Skills Development for Community Health Workers, focused on developing and refining the Coaching, Outreach, Relationship, and Engagement skills of this workforce. The inaugural C.O.R.E. training drew participants from throughout the State of Iowa and beyond. The stage for a more formal training was set.

Designed for personnel who work closely to engage and connect patients and clients with services in their communities, C.O.R.E. Training is a foundational training with learning and skills development to advance those already in CHW roles. C.O.R.E. Training learning objectives include:

  • Defining the scope of practice of a community health worker (CHW)
  • Exploring professional, coaching, communication, and technical skills specific to their organizational roles
  • Developing participants’ ability to provide high quality, individualized support for improving the health of a population

The training provided opportunities to network with other CHWs, interact with faculty and explore connections with key community resource providers. This learning experience culminated with a Community Health Worker Training Certificate.

Current CHW Training

The demand for Professional CHW Skills Training was validated by this earlier training. In 2018, the Iowa Chronic Care Consortium, along with the Iowa Community Health Worker Alliance, began plans to formalize the CHW training and embark upon a comprehensive demonstration, showing the value and impact of CHW in the health/community workforce.

With foundation support from an anonymous donor and the Telligen Community Initiative, ICCC developed a strategy to establish a U.S. Department of Labor recognized CHW Registered Apprenticeship Training Program and a companion CHW Professional Skills Training around the C.O.R.E. elements.

After actively exploring CHW training programs across the U.S., primarily built on a state-by-state basis, ICCC began its design of a robust training program that reflected the best training programs from across the country and that responded to the priority needs of CHWs working in the non-profit and government sector in Iowa and other states.

To assure the authenticity of the CHW training, ICCC gained approval from the U.S. Department of Labor for creation of a Registered CHW Apprenticeship Program. In June of 2019, approval of the Registered Apprenticeship was granted authorizing those successfully completing the Apprenticeship Program a CHW National Credential.

The Registered CHW Apprenticeship program involves both a structured on-the-job learning strategy combined with a related formal instructional program. The formal and companion instruction is a 147-hour program built upon 34 hours of online learning along with reading and practical exercises and assignments. This companion learning is the CHW Professional Skills Training which is offered to individuals and organizations as a robust training for CHWs without participation in the CHW Apprenticeship. It is based upon the leading CHW training developed by the City College of San Francisco and delivered by experienced CHW faculty and leading resource faculty.

This CHW training includes principles embodied in the C.O.R.E. training. It is both contemporary and comprehensive and is aimed at developing CHW skills and talents which will prepare and enhance the effectiveness of CHWs who are new to their roles, as well as more experienced CHWs. Extensive research and active learning components focus on practical aspects and skills essential to effective CHW performance. It addresses key learnings:

  • Promoting health equity and equality
  • Practicing cultural humility
  • Conducting client interviews
  • Client-centered behavior change and counseling
  • Care management
  • Home visits – approach, safety, security
  • Stress management and self-care
  • Conflict resolution
  • Chronic conditions management
  • Healthy eating and active living
  • Understanding trauma
  • Health services outreach
  • Professional skills

The initial CHW Registered Apprenticeship Program has begun. The Apprenticeship related instruction and CHW Professional Skills Training begins July 16, 2019 with a new training cycle scheduled for March 2020. For registration or additional information, please contact the Iowa Chronic Care Consortium (ICCC): Deb Kazmerzak, /515-554-3788; or William Appelgate, /515-988-6475.