Community Health Workers and Family Medicine Resident Education: Addressing the Social Determinants of Health.
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Neither the health care system nor the training of medical residents focus sufficiently on social determinants of health. Community health workers (CHWs) are a growing presence in health care settings. Culturally and linguistically competent, typically they are from underserved communities and spend more time addressing social determinants of health than others on the health care team. However, CHWs are an infrequent presence in resident clinical training environments. The University of New Mexico Family Medicine Residency placed family medicine residents at a community clinic in Albuquerque managed by CHWs, recognizing that CHWs' collaboration with residents would enhance resident competency in multiple domains. Residents gained skills from CHWs in inter-professional teamwork, cultural proficiency in patient care, effective communication, provision of cost-conscious care, and advocating for both individual and community health. Our model recognizes the value of CHW skills and knowledge and creates a powerful rationale for greater recognition of CHW expertise and integration of CHWs as members of the care team.