health-care workers

Study on Direct Care Workers’ Career Progress the Result of Campus Collaboration

March 27, 2018
By: WSU News

Linda Larrivee (EHNS), Stephanie Chalupka (Nursing), Marilyn Cleary (DGCE), and Cherie Comeau’s (DGCE) article entitled “Direct Care Workers Pathway Program: A Strategy for Seamless Academic Progression” has been accepted for publication in the next edition of the journal Metropolitan Universities, which is the publication of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.

This article describes the partnership between Worcester State University, UMass Memorial Medical Center, and the labor union SHARE to provide academic pathways for direct care workers to progress in careers through higher education. With the growing demand for more healthcare professionals in the medical industry, access to direct care positions with sustainable wages are needed more than ever but are frequently met with challenges. Candidates for these positions are often not fluent in English, lack a foundation in basic numeracy skills, and have little or no experience with the application of technology in the medical field. This partnership program seeks to provide opportunities and training to these candidates.

“Our goal was to foster their success,” says Marilyn Cleary, co-author and assistant dean for graduate and continuing education.

With accredited college-level classes and personalized programs, the Pathway Program provides career training for a variety of different professions including nursing, surgery technician, and pharmacology.

The study focused on two cohorts of workers from the medical center’s incumbent workforce enrolled in the program, which provided three courses totaling nine college credits. For most of the workers, this was their first college experience. Career maps and individual coaching helped the workers to define and visualize their goals. These maps contained actions steps toward achieving the goals. Several workers who completed the program matriculated into two and four-year professional programs, while others made plans to do so in the future.

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