Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit’s HPOG program transitions healthcare students to online classrooms.
In April 2018, Work Attributes Toward Careers in Health (WATCH), Visit disclaimer page a Health Profession Opportunity Grant in central Pennsylvania, noted rapid job growth in three occupations: Medical Front Office (MFO), Medical Billing and Coding (MB), and Electronic Health Records (EHR). They also saw a growing need for training options with flexible scheduling to accommodate individuals with employment and family obligations. Their efforts to integrate online healthcare training became the marker of program success when the COVID-19 pandemic moved most training and case management online.
In April 2020, the WATCH program realized they could improve their process for identifying participants’ goals for online learning. Each online training had three phases. Phase one consisted of a set learning curriculum. Upon completion, the student moves to phase two, exam-preparation. Finally, in phase three they sat for the certification exam. The WATCH team also introduced an Online Learning Committee that analyzed data of previous remote learners in WATCH supported healthcare occupations. Data showed most remote learners progressed through phase one but did not complete it within the expected time frame. The training is designed to take 14 weeks, but many participants took nine months to a year to finish. Many disengaged during phase two of training. This resulted in few participants completing phase three.
This committee identified strategies to help remote learners successfully complete their online training program and gain employment in their chosen occupation. Those strategies included assessing digital literacy skills, identifying soft skills commonly found in successful online learners, and helping participants develop an understanding of career pathway choices. WATCH provided remediation for students who required additional help developing their digital literacy skills before an online training program. In addition, all online students have a one-on-one career counseling session with the HPOG Workforce Specialist before training begins. This session included resume development, career exploration and mapping. Participants with no previous experience in healthcare also completed a short medical vocabulary and terminology course.
Prior to enrolling in an online training, participants worked closely with their Career Coordinators to set short-term goals for progressing in the program. WATCH finds these short-term goals add accountability and make the training program more manageable for participants. Since implementing these program changes, the WATCH program has had eight
participants start online training programs, three of whom have already completed.
This Promising Practice was self-identified by the grantee and information contained in this document was provided by the grantee.