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SWHPN Member Quarterly CE Webinar: Supporting Frontline Community Healthcare Workers
Thursday, May 27, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST
Category: Webinars

According to the Utah Community Health Worker Association, “A community health worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a connector between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery  A community health worker is not necessarily a clinical professional but receives training to build individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy.” 

Since March of 2019, as the public health response to the pandemic necessitated social/physical distancing and shuttered many businesses, while requiring the continued utilization of “essential workers,” the State of Utah has seen an expansion of the role of CHWs. Historically, CHWs have been utilized primarily in populations that have poorer access to health care—notably in communities of color, and the majority of CHWs are members of the community they serve.

As healthcare has evolved, CHWs have been crucial in filling in gaps within healthcare. CHWs that share ethnic, socioeconomic, and language backgrounds with the populations that they’re serving have been shown to be highly effective. Generally, CHWs have little to no medical training, and while CHWs have been effective, they are still quite underutilized. The limitations of education among CHWs limit their practice scope, but also may fuel role uncertainty, and risk of burnout. 

Moreover, CHWs receive little formal training in managing professional/personal boundaries, and since they are deeply integrated into the communities they serve, they are at risk for vicarious trauma as they address life-threatening disease and loss on an unprecedented scale. 

As part of a COVID response initiative funded by the State of Utah, the presenters were asked to develop and implement peer-support groups of CHWs and peer-support workers as they provided service during the pandemic. This presentation describes the community-specific peer support groups they provided and their ongoing research, using focus groups to assess the lived experience of CHWs and peer-support workers during the pandemic. They engaged in a concerted outreach to communities disproportionately by COVID-19, including Pacific-Islanders, Latino, Tribal communities, Refugees, and Older Adults.

As a result of attending this webinar, attendees will be able to:

  • Understand the lived experience of front-line Community Health Workers and mental health Peer Support Workers as they educated and still advocate for their community members during the pandemic
  • Understand community engagement practices to understand the varied approaches necessary to meet the psychological support needs of Community Health Workers
  • Articulate models of care to address the psychological support needs of Community Health Workers and how these evolved over the course of the pandemic.

DATE: Thursday, May 27 at 12:00 pm EDT | 9:00 am PDT | Register here

CostFREE for SWHPN members | $25 for nonmembers (members, be sure to log in at the top-right of this page to receive this webinar for free!)

We highly recommend you use your personal email address to register. Many hospital systems and hospices filter organizational emails and we don't want you to miss important announcements, CE certificates, or post-webinar surveys. An email to join the webinar will be emailed to attendees prior to the start of the webinar.

Presenter Info:

Kathie Supiano, PhD, LCSW, F-GSA, FT, APHSW-C is an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing, and the director of Caring Connections: A Hope and Comfort in Grief Program at the University of Utah College of Nursing. She teaches Interdisciplinary Approaches to Palliative Care for graduate students in Pharmacy, Social Work and Nursing, and Geriatric Care Management. Dr. Supiano’s research is in clinical interventions in complicated grief, prevention of adverse grief outcomes, suicide survivorship, overdose grief and prison hospice. She has been a practicing clinical social worker and psychotherapist for over 35 years. Her clinical practice has included care of older adults with depression and multiple chronic health concerns, end-of-life care, and bereavement care. Dr. Supiano is a Fellow in the Gerontological Society of America, and a Fellow of Thanatology. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network, the Board of Directors of Advanced Palliative Hospice Social Worker Certification Board, and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care. She received her PhD in Social Work at the University of Utah as a John A. Hartford Foundation Doctoral Fellow.


Siobhan P. Aaron, Ph.D., MSN, MBA, RN, is a T32 Post-doctoral research fellow in Cancer, Caregiving, & End-of-Life Care at the University of Utah. She has been a clinical nurse for the past 9 years. Through her experiences as a nurse, Siobhan has observed numerous end-of-life experiences in various populations. Guided by those experiences, Siobhan sought after opportunities to improve end-of-life outcomes for patients and their families.  Through Siobhan’s diverse academic and clinical experiences, she realized that often patients and their families had limited knowledge about their disease and treatment options.  Through her clinical lens, she saw those facing end-of-life repeatedly elected care that was not congruent with their beliefs. Often, there was a concerning disconnect between their culture and trust of the healthcare system. Inspired to make a difference, Dr. Aaron pursued her doctorate degree in Nursing.

Siobhan completed her Ph.D. in nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. Her dissertation explored the relationships between patient and family caregiver characteristics and preferences and the patient’s advance directive decision. Her dissertation was guided by the theory of complexity, employing a secondary data analysis from a sample of patients with advanced-stage IV lung and gastrointestinal cancers and their caregivers. During the T32 training fellowship, Siobhan focuses her research on improving outcomes and decreasing healthcare disparities in end-of-life decision-making with oncology patients and their family caregivers.

Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network aka SWHPN, #1716, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network aka SWHPN maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: 7/18/2020 – 7/18/2023.

Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 1 continuing education clock hours. 



Contact: [email protected]