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How to Become a Certified Traditional Health Worker

Beginning April 1st 2024, the Oregon Health Authority's Traditional Health Worker Program application portal is now Live . We urge every applicant seeking OHA certification and renewing certifications to use the portal. The application portal also allows individuals to update personal information, access determination letters, and check application status anytime! The electronic system provides step-by-step guidance for efficient application submission.

A mobile-friendly and computer-friendly system at your fingertips. Start your THW application now.  

The purpose of the Traditional Health Worker (THW) program is to help THWs in Oregon become trained and certified to meet current standards, diversify the health care workforce, provide high-quality and culturally competent care to our increasingly diverse populations and ultimately promote health equity.


Once you are certified with the Oregon Health Authority, we will add you to our state registry. The registry is a reliable, trusted source for finding a traditional health worker in Oregon. 

Who is eligible?

Traditional Health Workers (THWs) help individuals in their communities, providing physical and behavioral health services. There are five traditional health worker types:

  1. DOULA: A (Birth) Doula is a birth companion who provides personal, nonmedical support to women and families throughout a woman's pregnancy, childbirth, and post-partum experience.
  2. PSS: A Peer Support Specialist is any [range of] individuals who provide supportive services to a current or former consumer of mental health or addiction treatment.
  3. PWS: A Peer Wellness Specialist is an individual who has lived experience with a psychiatric condition(s) plus intensive training, who works as part of a person-driven, health home team, integrating behavioral health and primary care to assist and advocate for individuals in achieving well-being.
  4. PHN: A Personal Health Navigator is an individual who provides information, assistance, tools and support to enable a patient to make the best health care decisions.
  5. CHW: A Community Health Worker is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served.

Criteria for becoming a certified traditional health worker or renewing your certification

You must meet all of these criteria to become certified by the Oregon Health Authority:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have successfully completed all training requirements for certification
  • Submit all required documentation and a completed application
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Complete Oral Health training

If you submit a renewal application with a different email address than your original application, please contact us at, as soon as possible, otherwise you will be issued a new THW number.  Please, always provide us with a permanent email address.

Please know, for privacy reasons, we correspond only with individual applicants regarding the status of their application.

Criminal background check

Once we receive your Traditional Health Worker application and supporting documents, you'll get an email from our Background Check unit. Complete the background check application and return it to us. If you've lived outside of Oregon in the past five years, you'll also need to submit fingerprints. The background check is required even if you have had one in the past. This process will take about 4-8 weeks and all costs are covered by the Oregon Health Authority. If you meet all the requirements and pass the background check, we'll notify you by mail and add your information to the Authority's registry of certified traditional health workers.

The following documents must be prepared before submitting for review:

  1. Traditional Health Worker Full Certification and Renewal Application 
  2. Copy of your training certificate from an OHA-approved training program
  3. Clear copy of a government-issued identification
  4. Proof of Oral Health training

Send your application and documents to:

Traditional Health Worker Program
Office of Equity and Inclusion
421 SW Oak St. Suite 750
Portland, Oregon  97204
Fax: 971-673-1128  *Email is the most preferred method*

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a civil rights complaint or concern regarding THW services?

For additional Information about the THW program, please contact us at:

Telephone: 971-673-3353
Fax: 971-673-1128