Pave health career pathways to the middle class

How health care employers and educators can build tomorrow's entry-level workforce

health career pathways

Entry-level health care jobs can be the launching pad for fulfilling careers built on caring for others—and for entering the middle class. But health care employers across the country are struggling to fill entry-level jobs (roles requiring minimal formal education but that are critically important to delivering high-quality, cost-effective care). In some cases, there are not enough candidates. In others, the candidates are lacking key skills and competencies.

There is tremendous potential for health care employers to work in partnership with educators to train and recruit the entry-level staff needed to serve patients in their communities.


The Advisory Board Company and Hope Street Group partnered to launch the Health Careers Pathway Initiative, announced by the White House in April 2016. As part of the initiative, Advisory Board led a task force charged with identifying specific needs and best practices to improve health career pathways. Download the report to get the task force's findings, explore our collection of resources to start building your own health career pathways, and register for our upcoming webconference series to learn more about how health care employers and educators can work together to train, recruit, and retain entry-level staff.

Get the report



1. Lessons on integrating workforce planning with curriculum planning

Task force members found that one of the most significant challenges to effective workforce development is integrating employers' workforce planning efforts with educators' curriculum planning efforts. We've collected eight key lessons from employers, community colleges, and workforce development groups that have made progress with workforce alignment on a regional level. Get the lessons

2. Employer strategies to support entry-level health career pathways

Since employer voices are heard less often in national conversations about health career pathways, Advisory Board drew on research across the last several years involving hundreds of interviews with employers. Get strategies for health care employers to solve two specific challenges they face when trying to support entry-level health career pathways: 1) a "traditional" (and limited) talent pool, and 2) an unsustainable rate of turnover among entry-level staff. Download the strategies

3. Recommended ways to broaden support for health career pathways

While individual organizations can do a great deal to improve entry-level pathways on a local level, there are many opportunities to scale efforts to improve entry-level careers through regional and national collaboration among employers, educators, and policy makers. We've developed three recommendations to augment those efforts. See the recommendations

4. Resources to kick-start career pathway efforts

Access our collection of resources to help employers, educators, and workforce development groups build health career pathways.

Competencies and more

  • Survey on Entry-Level Competencies: This survey asks respondents to identify the top three entry-level skills and competencies for several groups and scenarios. Use this with regional stakeholders to identify key skills and competencies for the local workforce.

  • National Benchmarks on Entry-Level Competencies: Nearly 2,300 health care leaders and staff participated in Advisory Board's national survey on entry-level skills and competencies. View the results by title of respondent and care setting.

  • High-Touch Health Care – Critical Six Soft Skills: The California Community College Chancellor's Office worked with the Health Workforce Initiative Statewide Advisory Committee and the Workforce and Economic Development Program to develop "grab-n-go" modules focused on developing six soft skills in health care workers. Each one includes several presentations with embedded talking points, as well as detailed teaching plans.

  • Medical Assistant Competencies: Leaders at Massachusetts General Hospital expanded the medical assistant's (MA's) role in primary care to include more complex responsibilities. See what 22 competencies their MAs need to meet expectations in their redesigned role.

  • Sample Post-Graduate Assessment Survey: View the survey Community Colleges of Spokane uses to collect feedback from employers about the job readiness of graduates.

Job descriptions from Fairview Health Services

Additional resources for Advisory Board members


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