Findings from the Patient Care Pathway Program at Madison Area Technical College 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
Patient Care Pathway Program (PCPP) Cover
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  • Pages 7
  • Published 2019


This report documents the implementation and early impacts of the Patient Care Pathway program, operated by Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wisconsin. The program aimed to help low-skilled adults remediate their basic skills so that they could quickly access occupational training in the growing healthcare sector. The Patient Care Pathway program 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. Using a rigorous research design, the study found that the Patient Care Pathway program did not increase number of college credits earned. The program increased the likelihood of enrollment in occupational training, but did not increase hours of occupational training received or the attainment of education credentials within an 18-month follow-up period. Future reports will examine educational credential attainment as well as employment and earnings outcomes.

Primary Research Questions

  1. 1 What intervention was actually implemented? Did it deviate from plans or expectations?
  2. 2 What were students’ participation patterns and experiences with program services?
  3. 3 What were the effects of the Patient Care Pathway program on the number of college credits earned and other educational outcomes?


The Patient Care Pathway program adapted and linked existing programs at Madison Area Technical College to create three one-semester academies offering low-skilled students an accelerated pathway into their chosen one-year healthcare diploma or two-year healthcare degree program. The healthcare academies packaged contextualized and accelerated basic skills instruction with credit-bearing courses. The program also offered proactive advising designed to help students navigate the college setting and persist toward their desired educational program.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Most treatment group members participated in and completed at least one Patient Care Pathway academy.
  • Healthcare program admission policies external to the program presented barriers for admission to and timely completion of healthcare diploma and degree programs for Patient Care Pathway students.
  • The Patient Care Pathway program did not increase the number of college credits earned, total hours of occupational training, or credential receipt during the 18-month follow-up period.


The Patient Care Pathway program 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 December 2011 and January 2014, the evaluation randomly assigned 500 program applicants to either the treatment or the control group. Prior to estimating Patient Care Pathway program impacts, the research team published an analysis plan specifying key hypotheses and outcome measures. Data sources included a follow-up survey at 18 months after random assignment, administrative records from Madison College, and site visits to document program implementation and operations.

Last Reviewed: June 12, 2019