Profiting from Health Care / The Role of For-Profit Schools in Training the Health Care Workforce

Source: Julie Margetta Morganand Ellen-Marie Whelan Center for American Progress, January 20, 2011

From the summary:
This report intends to bring some clarity to how the for-profit education sector is contributing to the health workforce. It begins by providing a brief overview of these “proprietary” or for-profit schools and highlights the most pressing needs in health care occupations and the educational requirements for these professions. It takes an in-depth look at the progress for-profit colleges are making at educating students in health care programs. It also provides a detailed discussion of the resources available to students to help them understand the price of health care education programs, their likely salary upon graduation, and the overall quality of the educational offerings at a particular institution–the key pieces of information necessary for students to decide whether an educational program is worth the price.

The report finds that for-profit colleges are graduating students in health care fields but generally not the fields at the top of the nation’s growing health care needs. For-profit schools are making a contribution to the health care workforce but much of that contribution is concentrated in one educational program: medical assisting. The second-largest educational program in health care at for-profit schools is massage therapy, which does not correspond to any significant workforce need. For-profit colleges make a modest contribution in other areas such as registered nursing and licensed practical nursing. Clearly, traditional not-for-profit colleges are doing the bulk of the work in addressing our projected health care workforce needs.

The report makes three main observations about for-profit colleges and the health care workforce:

* For-profit schools are making only modest contributions to training the highestdemand health professionals. This is partly due to the very nature of the type of programs for-profit schools currently offer.
* For-profit institutions are training health care workers who may have a hard time finding a job or will only find work in jobs at the lower end of the pay scale.
* Quality measures now in place make it nearly impossible for students to traverse the maze of health professional education programs to make informed decisions.

We address these problems through the following three recommendations:

* Incentivize schools to offer and students to choose health career programs in fields that meet the nation’s future health care workforce needs.
* Help students choose the best course of health care study that will pay them a good wage.
* Improve quality measures to help students make better and more informed decisions.

See also:
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