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Emerging Practices with Promise

Submitted By: Heather  Maloy, San Joaquin Delta College

Course merges language, health care to provide gateway to career education

The Challenge

Delta Sierra Adult Education Alliance members wanted to create for its adult learners a smoother path to career education and a job in a high-demand field. They wanted students to view adult education as a starting point for pursuing their dreams and aspirations and empower them to continue their studies after they completed adult education programs. The consortium determined it needed to equip adult learners with transition skills, provide them with career exploration opportunities and offer them accelerated learning opportunities that had the potential to propel them into postsecondary education or training.

The Solution

One way the consortium has addressed the challenge is through the launch of the Gateway to Healthcare Careers pilot course, which incorporated the Integrated Education and Training (IET) model and career pathways strategy at two adult schools, Stockton Adult School and Lodi Adult School in San Joaquin County. The course, launched is summer 2017, was co-taught by an adult school instructor, who focused on English as a second language (ESL), and a health sciences instructor from San Joaquin Delta College, who was responsible for the content portion of the curriculum.

This course served as a fast-track to a health career in that it allowed students to improve their reading and writing skills by focusing on key topics in healthcare careers, instead of waiting until after they completed their ESL and basic skills studies to begin on a career path. In the course, language skills were delivered in the context of health careers. The curriculum integrated language as it pertains to specific themes, including healthcare career options and requirements related to employment in the healthcare sector. Course themes ranged from patient-centered communication, working as part of a health care team, assertive communication, healthcare systems and cultural diversity in health care.

The course wasn’t the start of the consortium’s efforts to address the challenge; it built upon the group’s earlier work to provide skill-level appropriate instruction and support to ensure adult students can access and succeed in a career pathway leading to economic sustainability.

The Gateway program was part of the consortium’s larger Pathway Bridge Model, similar to Minnesota FastTRAC. The Pathway Bridge Model features three steps:

1. Bride Prep, which provides an infusion of transition skills into all levels of ABE and ESL.
2. Bridge I, which provides career exploration and planning.
3. Bridge II, which contextualizes math and English to high-demand careers to prepare students to enter a career education program.

The Gateway to Healthcare Careers, an accelerated instruction model, is a component of consortium’s Bridge II prototype.


Relevant to the Pathway Bridge Model, DSRA will launch a Health Sector Partnership strategic planning process in fall 2017 to meet the needs of industry and to ensure that adult learners are well-prepared to succeed in the workplace. The partnership will be established with co-leadership and leveraged funding from San Joaquin Delta College’s Strong Workforce Program, the San Joaquin Community Health Leadership Council, San Joaquin WorkNet (workforce development board) and the region’s major health-industry leaders. A focus group of human resources directors identified skills gaps in the health care field, and that information will drive the partners’ work.

The Data

Thirty of the 37 students who began the Gateway to Healthcare Careers course successfully completed it, and the consortium is considering expanding this model to other career fields. The course also helped the consortium to gauge interest in and test the feasibility of team teaching. Separately, by establishing the Health Sector Partnership, the consortium has helped to mobilize the sector’s stakeholders to create a sustainable process for meeting regional workforce needs while providing residents with pathway opportunities to middle- and high-skill jobs.

Supporting Information

Link to FastTRAC site

Link to Career Foundations

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