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Community Health Worker Navigator (CHWN) Pathway Program 

Be the bridge between Cultures and Healthcare/Social Services 

The Community Health Worker Navigator (CHWN) Pathway program has been designed to help you get started in a rewarding career in healthcare. This role is sometimes called community health representative, public health aide, community advisor, outreach worker, case manager/case worker, peer educator, patient navigator, and other related titles.
Community Health workers are frontline public health workers who have a strong understanding of the communities they serve. As a CHW you will help individuals and families overcome barriers to effectively navigate healthcare systems and access community services needed for healthy and productive lives. Major components of the work include advocacy, outreach, navigation, health education and social support. 

This program is free to qualified students.
Contact us at 952.358.8343 to learn about when the next cohort will begin.

Community health workers often work in the communities that they serve in all geographic settings, including rural, urban and metropolitan areas, but typically support underserved communities in:   

  • Hospitals and medical clinics
  • Community health clinics
  • Social service agencies
  • Community based organizations 
  • Non-profit organizations or associations


The community health worker’s responsibilities may include::

  • Building connections between vulnerable populations and healthcare providers
  • Facilitating communication to help individuals, families, groups and communities navigate healthcare and social service resources
  • Determine eligibility and support enrollment of individuals in health insurance plans
  • Support vulnerable populations through healthcare transitions
  • Deliver culturally appropriate health education presentations to promote healthy lifestyle choices
  • Provide health screenings, immunization opportunities, first aid and other supportive healthcare services
  • Connecting people to health care/social service resources by sometimes driving people to medical appointments
  • Visit homes to check on individuals with specific health conditions i.e. pregnant women and nursing mothers, individuals at high risk of health problems, chronically ill and the elderly
  • Advocate for cultural competence among healthcare providers serving vulnerable populations
  • Collect appropriate data to provide information to stakeholders for program and policy improvements
  • Educate healthcare stakeholders about community health needs in order to address the social determinants of health 

Normandale has partnered with Project for Pride and Living (PPL), a community-based organization on the delivery of this program, which is free to qualified students. Students will receive support in areas such as career readiness, personal financial management and other assistance as needed.

Program Components
  1. Orientation and Essential Workplace Skills Certificate - This virtual or instructor-led series of short courses are designed to help individuals assess their own strengths and gain some fundamentals for college success. These are non-credit topics for interpersonal preparation and success in the program.
  2. College Credit Courses – Complete a series of college classes to earn the 16 credit Community Health Worker Certificate.  Classes are typically scheduled in the evenings from 5:30 – 8:30 pm either via zoom or in person.
  3. 80-hour Internship – Included in the certificate, students will complete an internship. Efforts will be made to connect students to internships in their areas of interest. Sometimes the internships will be paid, sometimes not.
  4. Employment – After completing the CHWN certificate you can begin to apply for CHW positions. With support from our partner, Project for Pride and Living, we will help get you connected to employers who are hiring community health workers.
  5. Degree Options – After completing the CHWN certificate, you can explore public health or social work degree programs at Normandale or partner colleges/universities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who might be interested?
  • Individuals wanting to transition out of office work into more meaningful work
  • Individuals already working in healthcare support roles wishing to increase their skills and employability
  • Individuals with culturally specific experience wanting to support their community
  • Individuals wanting to pursue public health career pathways.
Why train to become a Community Health Worker?

Improving Individuals and Communities - This is a career whereby you have the opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives of people in your own community. You will be advocating for underserved individuals to receive services and resources to address their important health needs and improve their quality of life.

Variety is part of the job - No two days are the same. Every day will provide a different set of challenges to keep your work life interesting. It provides the opportunity to interact with a broad range of people, learning new skills every day.

Career Progression – Public health careers are actively involved with improving the health of entire populations; and are recession proof. As you begin your career as a CHW you’ll enjoy work that cannot be replaced by technology. You’ll learn and grow and attain skills that address heath disparities and will have ample opportunities to advance your knowledge, experiences and career path.      

Meet lots of new people - You’ll work as part of a close-knit team and will interact with individuals, community members, health providers and others to problem solve and provide needed resources for improved life enhancing outcomes.

Self-Fulfillment - You'll have great satisfaction in life knowing that you wake up every day working to improve the lives of those around you. 

Culture and Diversity - The CHW role opens doors to working with and learning about diverse cultures. Expand your awareness and knowledge and learn from client, peers and healthcare partners. 

What Characteristics make good Community Health Workers?

A successful healthcare worker should know how to handle themselves in every situation, with a well-rounded skillset so they can adapt to the many circumstances and stakeholders they will encounter doing community health work.

Professionalism - Health care is delivered by teams of professionals who come together to support solutions for improved healthcare outcomes for individuals and families. Recognizing your place on the team and working towards excellent outcomes in a respectful, openminded manner is a necessity.  

Respectfulness –Always have an attitude of respect for all members of the care team as everyone has a role to play in creating healthcare equity. Make certain you are listening to understand. 

Resourcefulness - There’s not always a clear answer to the issues community health workers help to overcome. Sometimes you’ll have to get creative to splice together the right resources to help an individual gain access to the care that will improve their lives.  

Flexibility - It’s important to have a solid understanding of all of the possible options available and be able to navigate the complex systems of healthcare, government and social services. What works for one client, might not be repeatable for the next.

Relationship building - If you’re someone who values connections with others and excels at nurturing those relationships over time, you will thrive as a community health worker.

Empathy – You might have experienced some of the same circumstances you find your clients in and that allows you to fully understand their viewpoints and positions. Successful CHW’s have a genuine compassion for the individuals and families they are serving. 

Persistence – Advocating for health needs or assisting individuals with social service needs is not always glamorous work. It takes time, stamina and a determined work ethic to keep going when the going gets slow or tough.

Trustworthiness – You need to be honest, approachable and offer complete confidentiality in order to be entrusted with sensitive healthcare information. Trust is a foundational characteristic and need in healthcare work. 

Observation skills - Improving observation skills allows you to “listen” with more than just your ears in order to make the best recommendations and decisions. It also enhances your ability to interact with your clients and to respond in the most appropriate ways. 

Confidentiality - Confidentiality is a central part of the code of ethics for CHWs and is required by law and employers. Additionally, clients will be more likely to cooperate or participate in their care if they can trust that anything they share with you will be kept private.

For more information

Call – Velvet Walker, Adult Learning and Workforce Partnerships Director at 952/358-8343

Informal information sessions are held virtually on Mondays at 10am sponsored by Project for Pride and Living 

Additional Resources: