Panel Paper: How Obama’s College Completion Agenda Impacted Healthcare Education Outcomes

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Haymarket (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Debra Bragg, University of Washington

The paper presents results of a large-scale evaluation of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant by the Department of Labor (DOL). Results are drawn from a mixed-methods evaluation involving nine community colleges that formed the Health Professions Pathways (H2P) Consortium. These colleges are located in urban and rural communities throughout the middle U.S., extending from Ohio (Cincinnati and Toledo) to the east to Minnesota (Coon Rapids and Pine City) to the north and west, and to Texas (Dallas and Texarkana) to the south, with colleges in Illinois (Chicago) and Kentucky (Ashland and Louisville) in the middle.

A primary goal of the evaluation was to assess the impact of healthcare-focused workforce development programs on student outcomes, with a primary focus on partnerships involving healthcare providers. The evaluation used college- and student-level data involving over 6,500 students of which nearly 5,000 enrolled in a healthcare program funded by TAACCCT. A quantitative-dominant (quasi-experimental) mixed method design was used to gather and analyze college, program and student data, including student demographics; pre-college, college and educational outcomes; and employment outcomes.

This presentation will describe the workforce-oriented partnerships that formed within communities as well as across the states using the Consortium’s grant-funded strategy to “galvanize a national movement” to promote healthcare education reform. The Consortium’s efforts to test, adopt, and disseminate a health occupations core curriculum (HOCC) will be described, with attention paid to the creation of a highly functional community of practice (COP) and peer-to-peer network including local and national healthcare industry providers. By the end of the grant, the HOCC had scaled to 33 community colleges.

Results on student outcomes showed a positive impact on credential attainment rates. Of the 4,888 students who enrolled in programs funded by TAACCCT, roughly two-thirds earned a college credential or were still enrolled by end of the grant. Over 1,000 long-term certificates and associate’s degrees were awarded, and another 1,000 short and very short certificates were granted. Even more compelling, the H2P students' labor market outcomes improved greatly when compared to their employment and earnings prior to the grant. Students gained $1,400-$1,700 in average quarterly earnings, with students who completed long-term certificates earning roughly $2,500 more compared to their pre-H2P average and $3,600 more compared to their earnings in the quarter immediately prior to enrollment in H2P. For students who completed associate’s degrees, these gains were $4,000 and $6,000, mostly attributable to the high labor market value of registered nursing degrees. These results are tempered somewhat, however, by the rebounding of economy over the course of the grant. Even so, the fact that median earnings gains were roughly 60% higher than the comparison cohort (using a rigorous quasi-experimental method) led us to conclude that the grant had a positive impact on H2P students as well as the healthcare providers who employed them.