Skip to main content

Developing pathways for careers in health: The Los Angeles Healthcare Competencies to Careers Consortium (Tan & Moore 2017)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Tan, C., & Moore, C. (2017). Developing pathways for careers in health: The Los Angeles Healthcare Competencies to Careers Consortium. Sacramento, CA: Education Insights Center, California State University, Sacramento.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Los Angeles Healthcare Competencies to Careers Consortium (LAH3C) on education, earnings, and employment outcomes.
  • The authors used a nonexperimental design to compare outcomes between students in the LAH3C with a matched comparison group.
  • The study found that LAH3C program participation was significantly related to improvements in retention, credit completion, and program completion.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is low because the authors used a comparison group from previous enrollment years presenting a confounding factor. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the LAH3C; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Los Angeles Healthcare Competencies to Careers Consortium (LAH3C)

Features of the Intervention

The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program provided $1.9 billion in grants to community colleges to improve skills and support employment in high-demand industries, notably manufacturing, health care, information technology, energy, and transportation. Through four rounds of funding, DOL awarded 256 TAACCCT grants to approximately 800 educational institutions across the United States and its territories.

The Los Angeles Healthcare Competencies to Careers Consortium (LAH3C) received a TAACCCT grant to better structure pathways to health careers and to promote student progress, completion, and employment. The grant was implemented by a consortium of eight colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD). LAH3C students were guided through a pathway toward college completion as they advanced through the four tiers of the Health Science Pathways for Academic, Career and Transfer Success (H-PACTS) framework. In Tier 1, students were assessed for college readiness, preexisting knowledge of the healthcare industry, and strengths and areas for improvement. Tier 2 involved Health Occupation courses designed to build foundational and core competencies in healthcare. These courses also covered concepts related to academic and career readiness, such as teamwork, cultural awareness, and professionalism. Tier 3 included pursuit of a degree in one of 11 programs of study. Students who advanced to Tier 4 completed an Associate's degree and/or transferred to a four-year institution. Support services were available to encourage and monitor students as they progress. The majority of the programs were short-term certificates, but they ranged from eight weeks to two-year degree programs.

Features of the Study

The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who participated in LAH3C to students who did not participate. The treatment group was comprised of LAH3C students across the eight colleges in the LACCD (California). The comparison group was a historical cohort of LACCD students majoring in healthcare in the 2011-2012 academic year. The authors matched LAH3C students to similar students using propensity scores developed from a set of sociodemographic and educational background variables. After propensity score matching, the treatment group included 6,056 students and the comparison group included 13,190 students. Data sources included student surveys, a student database maintained by staff, the district’s Office of Institutional Research student information system data, and employment records held by California's Employment Development Department. The authors conducted t-tests and chi-square analyses to examine differences in outcomes between the groups. For the retention and completion outcomes, they also conducted statistical models with controls for demographic variables, education, income, and study site.

Study Sites

  • East Los Angeles College (ELAC)
  • Los Angeles City College (LACC)
  • Los Angeles Harbor College (LAHC)
  • Los Angeles Mission College (LAMC)
  • Los Angeles Pierce College (LAPC)
  • Los Angeles Southwest College (LASW)
  • Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC)
  • West Los Angeles College (WLAC)

Findings

Education and skills gains

  • The study found a significant relationship between LAH3C participation and retention rates, with LAH3C participants approximately twice as likely to be retained to the second term than students in the comparison group.
  • The study also found a significant relationship between LAH3C participation and program completion, with LAH3C participants seven times as likely to complete their program than students in the comparison group
  • The study found that LAH3C participation was significantly related to higher credit completion rates and lower rates of course failure. When compared to non-participants, LAH3C participants had higher credit completion rates (22 percentage point difference) and lower failure rates (8 percentage point difference).
  • However, the study found that LAH3C participation was significantly related to higher rates of courses dropped than the comparison group (4 percentage point difference).

Earnings and wages

  • The study found no significant relationship between LAH3C participation and earnings.

Employment

  • The study found no significant relationship between LAH3C participation and employment.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The comparison group was comprised of a historical cohort and included students enrolled in any healthcare major. Because the outcome data on the two groups were collected from participants at different times, differences in outcomes could be due to time-varying factors (such as overall changes at the community college) and not the intervention. Therefore, the study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for nonexperimental designs.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is low because the authors used a comparison group from previous enrollment years presenting a confounding factor. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the LAH3C; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Topic Area