Jobs to Careers: Transforming the Front Lines of Health Care

An RWJF national program

Dates of Program: 2005–2012

Field of Work: Strengthening the front-line workforce in health care

Problem Synopsis: Front-line health care employees have critical responsibilities in delivering direct care to patients. Yet few earn enough to support their families, and most lack the formal training that leads to credentials and higher-skilled jobs in health care. With few opportunities to advance in health care, both job retention and morale are low. Continuity of care and health services suffer as a result.

Synopsis of the Work: Seventeen local partnerships between health care employers, educational institutions, and other community organizations created and tested new systems of work-based learning for front-line workers in four health care sectors: hospitals, long-term care, behavioral health, and community health centers.

The 17 partnerships used work-based learning strategies to train over 800 front-line workers, the majority of whom achieved pay increases, professional credentials, college credits, or other outcomes.

Key Results

  • The 17 partnerships trained over 800 front-line workers across four subsectors of health care: hospitals, behavioral health facilities, community health centers, and long-term care facilities.

  • About half of the workers trained received promotions and significant raises—on average a dollar or more per hour.

  • The projects built career ladders for front-line workers where they did not exist before.

  • The relationships between employers and post-secondary institutions, especially community colleges, helped to define competencies for certain front-line jobs that had never been clearly defined before.

“Jobs to Careers showcased the kinds of systems changes that can elevate the skills and status of front-line workers.”

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Front-line workers fill about 1/2 of all health care jobs - ranging from direct care to support & administrative roles.

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