Community Health Aide
At A Glance
Years in School (after high school graduation):
2 years or less
$13.53-$30.54 (Mean $21.72)
*Based on 2016 Alaska DOL data for community health workers
The Community Health Aide (CHA) profession is unique to Alaska, and is one of the most important health care providers in rural Alaska. CHAs work under the supervision of a referral physician who is employed by the Indian Health Service or one of the tribally managed hospitals or clinics. Because CHAs live and work in remote areas, they communicate regularly with their referral physicians by telemedicine, telephone, e-mail or radio.
Community Health Aides use the Alaska Community Health Aide/Practitioner Manual to guide them through obtaining a medical history, performing a physical examination, making an assessment, and planning care. The manual is now in electronic format and CHAs can access it via iPad or desktop computer. CHAs see a variety of patients including elders, pregnant women, infants and children, accident victims, and mental health and chronic disease patients. CHAs also coordinate the appointments of other visiting health care professionals who regularly visit the village to provide care, including public health nurses, dentists, and doctors.
Community Health Aides generally work in the village where they live, and are employed by their tribal council or tribal health organization. The village council usually makes the selection for employment and training. Some CHAs work as itinerants and may work in a number of villages each year.
- Math and English skills at or beyond the 6th grade level. Some employers may require a higher standard for admission into a training program.
- Basic training consists of fifteen weeks divided into four sessions. All sessions include classroom time and clinical practice. Training may take place at any one of the three regional centers: Anchorage, Bethel or Nome. Some of the training is now available online through the CHAP Distance Learning Network. Completion of basic training may take from 14 months to several years. One of the benefits of the program is that a CHA is employed while being trained and therefore receives a salary.
- After CHAs complete the four basic training sessions, they may complete additional clinical requirements and take an examination to become a Community Health Practitioner or CHP. This is the highest level of accomplishment for training.
- All CHAs and CHPs may obtain certification at their level of training by meeting program requirements determined by the CHA Program Certification Board.
- CHAs and CHPs may use their basic training courses to work toward an Associate’s degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.