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Findings from the Pathways to Healthcare Implementation and Early Impact Report

June 13, 2019
Self-Sufficiency, Welfare & Employment
Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE), 2007-2018 | Learn more about this project
Pathways to Healthcare Program Cover
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  • File Size 2mb
  • Pages 6
  • Published 2019


This brief summarizes the implementation and early impacts of the Pathways to Healthcare program, operated by Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. Pathways to Healthcare is one promising effort to help low-income, low-skilled adults access and complete occupational training that can lead to increased employment and higher earnings. It is one of nine career pathways programs being evaluated under the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Using a rigorous research design, the study found that Pathways to Healthcare program increased hours of occupational training and basic skills instruction received and the attainment of education credentials within an 18-month follow-up period. Future reports will examine whether these effects translate into gains in employment and earnings.

Primary Research Questions

  1. 1 What intervention was actually implemented?
  2. 2 What were students’ participation patterns and experiences with program services?
  3. 3 How did services received differ between study participants who could access the Pathways to Healthcare program versus those who could not?


Pima Community College received a Health Profession Opportunity Grant from ACF to implement Pathways to Healthcare. The program aimed to engage low-income adults in college and facilitate their academic and career progress by augmenting the college’s existing training programs with support and employment services. It mapped 16 existing healthcare occupational training programs into five pathways, each incorporating a ladder that enables students to obtain stackable credentials. The program also included proactive advising such as career counseling; scholarships for tuition and books; two compressed basic skills programs that in one semester remediate students whose low skills prevented them from enrolling directly in training; and job search assistance.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • The treatment group attended significantly more hours of occupational training (the primary outcome measured in this report) than the control group.
  • The treatment group was significantly more likely than the control group to participate in advising such as career counseling, to receive help arranging supports, and to receive job search assistance.
  • The treatment group earned significantly more college credentials (degrees, certificates) than the control group.


The Pathways to Healthcare evaluation included an implementation study that examines the design and operation of the program and enrolled students’ participation patterns, and an impact study that uses an experimental design to measure differences in educational and employment outcomes. Between February 2012 and January 2014, Pima Community College staff randomly assigned 1,217 study participants: 609 to the treatment group and 608 to the control group. Prior to estimating Pathways to Healthcare impacts, the research team published an analysis plan specifying key hypotheses and outcome measures. Data sources included a follow-up survey conducted approximately 18 months after random assignment, Pima Community College records, and site visits to document program implementation and operations.

Last Reviewed: June 12, 2019