Colorado Health Navigator Competency Assessment

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Registration is now open! Click here to be directed to the registration page, which has the most updated information on when assessments are scheduled. 


The Colorado health navigator competency assessment is not a written test of the health navigator’s knowledge. The assessment uses real-life case scenarios taken from healthcare agencies that serve persons who are underserved and experience numerous health inequities due to barriers to care and are in need of health navigation. Well-trained actors represent the patients in the various scenarios that comprise the assessment. These actors are referred to as Standardized Patients. The individuals taking the assessment are expected to respond to the actor based on their training as a health navigator.

The assessment focuses on three core competency areas that can successfully be assessed using this assessment model. Competency in these areas is considered to be essential for safe and effective health navigator practice in healthcare settings. The three areas are:

  1. Interaction and communication between patient and healthcare team,
  2. Professionalism, and
  3. Patient care/care coordination.

Assessments are held at the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) on the Anschutz campus in Aurora. On occasion, an assessment may be offered outside of the Front Range area (check the registration link above). 

The assessment takes a half day (or 3 hours), including an orientation to the assessment logistics and an evaluation of the assessment process. Sixteen people can register for each test date. Registration fee is $363, plus online transaction fees (vary by payment method).

There is no limit on how many times a navigator can take the assessment and no minimum waiting period in between assessments.

What happens during the assessment?

All individuals who take the assessment are provided a group orientation to the process of the assessment by the staff of CAPE before the assessment begins.


Health navigators will be asked to meet with not more than 8 people/Standardized Patients during the 3-hour assessment session. Each meeting or Health Navigator-Patient encounter will be based on a different scenario. Each encounter is 15 minutes.


For each patient scenario, there will be information on the door of the room where the health navigator meets with a Standardized Patient. Each scenario will have its own set of common health navigator tasks. The tasks are identified to help the navigator focus the encounter with the Standardized Patient. While the navigators meet with a Standardized Patient, they will work on as many tasks as possible and as appropriate. The information provided to the navigators will let them know the time length of the meeting with the patient and it is not expected that all “tasks” identified will be completed in that time frame.


Examples of tasks include: 

  • Establish a collaborative, professional relationship of trust grounded in relationship-centered communication skills (health navigators will be told if this is their “first meeting” with the patient or whether they already “know” the patient);
  • Identify patient/client needs and strengths;
  • Arrange referrals to other providers for patient’s behavioral symptoms and inform the healthcare team;
  • Apply understanding of common reactions to chronic disease diagnosis and living with chronic disease in communication with patient/client/caregiver/family;
  • Identify appropriate resources and referrals for care, including appropriate community and social service resources.


During the meeting with the Standardized Patient, navigators will hear a 3 minute remaining and a 1-minute remaining announcement in the room. This allows the navigators to monitor their time.


To get a better idea of how the assessment is set-up, watch this short clip from the pilot of the assessment!

Development of the Assessment

The Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus was engaged to develop the competency-based assessment for graduates of CDPHE-Recognized Health Navigator Training Programs.


This type of assessment of competencies has been in place at CAPE for many years and is used on a regular basis to evaluate competencies of health professions students and practicing health professionals. The assessment was developed over a two-year period and tested with practicing health navigators and individuals who completed training and were looking for employment or volunteer opportunities as a health navigator.