Practice, Upcoming Issue

Coming Soon to Practicing Anthropology: A Snapshot of Key Issues Facing Community Health Workers [and their Potential Impacts] in the Midwest

By: Ryan I. Logan, MA, CPH

My article entitled “Let the Horse Run: Assessing the Potentiality, Challenges, and Future Sustainability of CHWs in Indiana” explores the experiences of community health workers in Indiana – a state that suffers from a variety of health issues – and specifically the impact, potentialities, challenges, and future of the CHW model.  Community health workers (CHWs) are an underutilized component of the workforce in the United States that could have significant impacts on the health landscape of the nation. CHWs are a type of nonclinical health worker that typically come from the communities they work within. This intimate connection with their community is crucial, as it gives them a foundation for quickly building rapport with clients to improve their health and address a variety of social determinants of health. Furthermore, CHWs participate in various forms of advocacy – a unique component of the CHW model – that helps them implement positive changes for both individuals and the broader community.

As CHWs typically come from marginalized communities (including minority, immigrant, and refugee populations) where the need for health care and other resources is great, they have the potential to reduce health disparities and actively strive toward health equity. However, challenges related to terminology, service reimbursement, and certification have kept the model on the fringes of the workforce. Steps to incorporate CHWs in legislation and policy development around the model is essential to keep the core components of the position and to elevate the voice of CHWs. Ultimately, the future is ripe for integration of CHWs in the broader workforce and now is the time to “let the horse run.”


Logan, center, giving a presentation to CHWs.

Ryan I. Logan ( is a dual degree student earning his PhD in applied (medical) anthropology and a master’s of public health (MPH). Logan holds a B.A. in anthropology and an M.A. in applied anthropology from Indiana University. His anthropological research interests are broadly focused on health disparities, im/migration, and medical paraprofessionals. Logan is currently writing his dissertation, which is focused on a type of non-clinical health worker called community health workers (CHWs). His research examines, broadly, the lived experiences of CHWs as well as their impact on health care – specifically their ability to reduce health disparities through serving as a bridge between biomedical care and marginalized communities as well as through their advocacy work. Logan is also interested in immigration and religion. HIs previous research looked at the intersection of religion, social justice, and undocumented immigration in the United States.


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