Jan 08, 2018

The Emerging Role of the Community Health Worker:

Nurses as Champions and Policy Leaders in a Transforming Health Care System – Nebraska, 2017

Problem Statement: The current period, from the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 to the present, is characterized by intense change in the health care system, including changes in the health care workforce.  The nursing profession has a long and credible history developing the workforce to meet health needs of the population.  Active engagement of nurses in health systems transformation is necessary if nurses are to remain visible, relevant, and impactful. One area where nurses – the largest and most trusted of health professions – have been curiously silent is the changing workforce, particularly in development of the community health worker role.

Approach: A project team of nurse leaders convened to consider the emerging role of the community health worker, nationally and in Nebraska.  Work products included an inventory of community health worker projects in Nebraska; a policy cross-walk to illuminate national and Nebraska policy developments; and a bibliography of useful resources regarding community health worker training, role expectations, and policies.  The team employed a dialectic approach to arrive at consensus recommendations regarding the development of the community health worker role.

Products/Outcome: The team developed a set of ten consensus recommendations reflecting nursing expertise and inputs into the development of the community health worker role in a transforming health system. The team also developed recommendations for the Future of Nursing – Nebraska Action Coalition.

Implications: Nurses have critical assets to offer in the continuing development of the health care workforce.  Bringing nursing expertise to health systems transformation offers critical opportunities to assure the patient-centered focus, ethics, social justice, and high-quality performance that will characterize culturally-responsive health care teams of the future.