Home Site Map Contact Us    
Publications About CAEL Our Services Key Initiatives News Events


“Apprenticeship is an industry-
driven concept, which uses on-the-job training and classroom instruction to produce well-trained workers. We want to be sure that, at completion of training, workers have advancement opportunity and employers have the skilled workers they need to succeed.”

-Emily Stover DeRocco, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training,
US Department of Labor


“I always wanted to be a nurse but never thought I would get the chance. Now I'm getting there one step at a time.”

-a program participant, Harris County Hospital District, Houston, TX

“The ability of our staff to participate in the CAEL Career Lattice project greatly increases their opportunities for learning and career growth.”

-Neal Eddy, Vice President for Learning and Strategic Integration, The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, Sioux Falls, SD


CAEL / Key Initiatives / CAEL/DOL Healthcare Lattice Program

Few topics are more important to people today than health care. Both from a personal perspective and from a societal viewpoint, Americans are deeply concerned about what the future holds for them. The growing need of an aging “baby boomer” generation is creating an enormous shortage in qualified health care workers. Challenged by this critical necessity, CAEL, in collaboration with the US Department of Labor (DOL) has implemented a unique education and training program in five pilot sites across the country.

An Innovative Solution with Growth Opportunities

The Nursing Career Lattice Program initiative addresses the national nursing shortage with the development of a career lattice program model to increase the number of Certified Nursing Aides (CNAs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs).

The program assists both incumbent and newly hired workers to enter and advance in healthcare careers. The model seeks to:

  • Allow participants to earn while they learn in a competency-based apprenticeship
  • Provide more flexible and robust learning opportunities
  • Encourage a more diverse group to enter healthcare professions
  • Improve workforce retention

Career “Lattice” vs. “Ladder”

CAEL uses the term “lattice” to recognize that careers do not always follow a linear progression. Workers often make lateral moves in their careers, which can be just as important for their career development. To illustrate, a career “ladder” would focus only on the progression of CNAs to LPNs to RNs, while a lattice recognizes that LPN candidates can also be drawn from other branches of the healthcare field (e.g., lab techs) as well as from non-healthcare professions.

Three Levels of Training

The CNA Lattice
Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) apprentices are hired as soon as they enter the program. Candidates come from inside the organization, from high schools, and from publicly-funded One-Stop Career Centers. Training includes:

  • 144 hours of clinical and didactic training and 2000 hours of training on the job.
  • Special curriculum units on problem solving, stress management, and
    interpersonal skills.
  • Specialization opportunities in geriatric, dementia, pediatric, and restorative care.

The LPN Lattice
At a next level on the lattice, the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) apprenticeship draws candidates from within the healthcare system (incumbent workers and advanced CNAs) and from outside (high schools and One-Stop Career Centers). This LPN program:

  • Promotes a more flexible, competency-based approach to training practical nurses - LPNs or LVNs.
  • Prepares participants to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam.

The Online LPN to RN Lattice
At the top rung of the lattice, the web-based online LPN-to-RN program helps LPNs advance to RN positions. This online program:

  • Gives working LPNs flexibility in completing the didactic training.
  • Provides articulation with local community colleges to oversee the clinical training.
  • Prepares participants to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.

The Local Program Partners

At each of the five pilot sites--Chicago, Houston, Maryland, Sioux Falls, and Washington state--the Nursing Career Lattice Program is an employer-driven partnership that includes:

  • Healthcare facilities
  • Community colleges
  • The public workforce system
  • Community organizations, joined by CAEL, DOL, and State Apprenticeship offices

Healthcare Career Lattices Guidebook

Based upon the success of the Nursing Career Lattice model at the pilot sites, CAEL has developed a guidebook to assist healthcare employers, industry alliances, Workforce Investment Boards, One-Stop Career Centers, and higher education providers in meeting the challenges of workforce development. How Career Lattices Help Solve Nursing and Other Workforce Shortages in Healthcare introduces the key components that comprise the model, shares important lessons from CAEL’s experiences, and outlines steps for replication. The development of this guidebook was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The guidebook includes:
• Key design components of the CAEL/DOL Nursing Career Lattice Model
• A case study from one of our pilot sites
• Lessons and suggestions from our experiences
• Steps for planning, implementing the model, and ensuring ongoing success
• Sample materials

How Career Lattices Help Solve Nursing and Other Workforce Shortages in Healthcare
Click here for a free pdf version

Due to the size of the above pdf, you may find it easier to download by section. Please click beneath the "Pages" field for the corresponding PDF section.




Cover, introductory materials, table of contents, and executive summary


The narrative


Appendix table of contents and appendices A - C


Appendices D – F6


Appendices F7 – G3

Best Practices Research

An important component of CAEL's work on this project has been to identify exemplary learning practices specific to healthcare employers. CAEL staff has visited a small number of leading healthcare organizations to learn how organizations implement the exemplary practices and about the kind of environment that allows such systems to thrive. We have recently published a report with case studies that will help inform the
practices of healthcare organizations throughout the country.

Employee Development: A Prescription for Better Healthcare
An Executive Summary 14 pages
Click Here for a free PDF version

Employee Development: A Prescription for Better Healthcare
Exemplary Practices of Employee Learning and Development in
Healthcare Organizations 83 pages
Click Here for a free PDF version

CAEL works with healthcare organizations, colleges and universities, and the public sector to set up programs across the country.  Unfortunately, we are not able to link individuals to specific programs.  If you are looking to start a career in healthcare, here are some resources you can pursue:

Your local Department of Labor Apprenticeship office

Community colleges
Community-based organizations
Healthcare organizations

About CAEL | Our Services | Key Initiatives | Newsroom | Events