How to Choose Healthcare Training Programs: Rubric for Evaluation

This is the final article in our four part series on attracting entry-level healthcare talent and upskilling employees. Part 1 goes over what entry-level healthcare workers are looking for employees. Part 2 goes over the ROI of upskilling employees and deciding if it's right for you. Part 3 goes over how to set up a healthcare employee upskilling program.

Many healthcare organizations are implementing upskilling programs to reduce turnover, improve outcomes, and function more efficiently. Upskilling typically offers an excellent return on investment (ROI), but only for facilities that plan and implement their upskilling program well. 

Leaders who want to upskill their employees should create criteria for choosing appropriate staff members to upskill, have a plan to replace entry-level employees as they earn promotions, budget for pay increases related to upskilling, and create a clear pathway map for employees and managers to follow. 

Perhaps most importantly, leadership teams should carefully consider which training platform to use for their program. Selecting a quality platform will give your employees the best chance of gaining the skill set they need to function at their highest capacity while avoiding the high cost and scheduling frustrations that are often associated with bringing outside companies on board. 

But how do you choose the right employee upskilling program? 

This article covers everything you should consider when selecting an upskilling program for your healthcare team. 

What to Consider When Choosing a Training Provider to Upskill Employees

The upskilling program you choose can have a major impact on the satisfaction of your employees, the quality of their work, and your return on investment. Before you commit to a program, consider the following: 

1) Cost

One of the first things you’ll need to do is find a program that fits within your budget. Remember that the most expensive programs are not always the highest quality. Many less expensive training programs offer excellent training and service to their customers. 

2) Length

Upskilling programs can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years. While some positions do require several years' worth of training, most upskilling programs should not take longer than a year to complete. 

This is especially true for entry-level healthcare jobs, where employees are usually more eager to progress in their careers. 

As you consider the length of programs, make sure you compare timelines for the same role. For example, a medical assisting program will consistently take more time to complete than a phlebotomy program. 

3) Program completion rate

Nothing would be more frustrating than getting your organization started with an upskilling program and having most of your staff drop out before completing the program. 

Unfortunately, many online learning platforms and upskilling programs have incredibly high dropout rates. A study from Columbia University showed that completion rates for online MOOC certification only reach about 15%. 

Find a program that has a proven track record of helping students succeed and stick with the training until the end. For example, here at Stepful, we have an 80% completion rate for our students. 

4) Certification exam pass rate

If you want your staff to earn a certification, simply completing the program isn’t enough. You want your staff to be able to pass their certification course at the end of their training. It is worth paying a little bit more if you can find a company with impressive certification exam passing rates. 

Here at Stepful, we have a certification exam pass rate of 85% compared to the national average of 70%. We give your staff members the knowledge they need to earn their certification and be proficient after they graduate. 

5) If flexible scheduling is available

Flexible scheduling is an important consideration for most healthcare companies, especially those who are already facing staffing shortages. 

If your employees have to miss days, weeks, or months of work, or live classroom hours fall during the busiest parts of the shift, they are unlikely to want to participate and it may not make sense to put your staff through the program. 

Look for programs that offer classes in the morning, evening, or both so your employees can learn when it works for them and their work schedules.

Note that, as an organization, you may need to offer more support and recourses for students who are participating in an upskilling program. Even with a flexible schedule, taking on a training program while still working full-time can be taxing on your staff. 

Help your staff achieve a good work-life balance by offering enough time off to finish coursework and ensuring that leadership teams are supportive of the upskilling schedule. 

6) Live sessions

While pre-recorded sessions offer flexibility and consistency, they are less effective than live sessions. 

Live sessions allow teachers to adjust content to the learning needs of their cohort and answer questions as they come up. In addition, recorded sessions—especially in healthcare—quickly become outdated. 

Many students learn better in live sessions than when they have to sit through a pre-recorded lecture or read through the material themselves. Experts recommend that at least 50% to  80% of lectures in a training program should be live.

7) Self-paced vs. cohort-based

While self-learning can be more flexible, studies show that cohort-based learning results in better learning outcomes and higher student graduation rates. 

Enrolling several of your staff members in the same cohort can help them grow as individuals and as a team, and increases the chance of them completing the program. 

Ideally, training programs will have a cohort-based option that offers some flexibility and one-on-one coaching for students.

8) One-on-one coaching

While cohort-based learning is generally better than self-based learning, one-on-one instruction is still important. 

Students who get individual attention from their instructors are much more likely to understand the course content and be able to transfer those skills into their work.

One-on-one coaching is especially important for remote learners, who may have a harder time interrupting an online or video lecture to ask questions. Research shows that students who can participate in online chats with their instructors or even just their peers can get help more easily and meet their desired outcomes more often.

9) Soft skills training

When upskilling employees, hard skills are usually the first things that come to mind for most leaders. Many employers want to help their employees learn how to perform new tasks, like performing a blood draw or taking an x-ray. 

While these skills are important and can help your organization work more efficiently, you’ll want to make sure to upskill their soft skills as well. 

When it comes to employee success, soft skills are even more important than hard skills. In fact, 89% of recruiters say that when a new hire does not work out, it is caused by a problem with soft skills. 

10) If schools help you find clinical training

Some skills are simply better learned through hands-on experience. Entry-level healthcare jobs are especially task-heavy, and often require skills like IV placement, measuring vital signs, and handling delicate instruments. 

While hearing about and watching videos of strategies, techniques, and tools used for these skills is a good first step, healthcare workers need some in-person practice to become proficient. Hands-on learning improves skill learning, retention, confidence, and even test scores. 

Look for a program that helps you find clinical training. For example, our training programs here at Stepful offer externship opportunities for students to help them develop the confidence they need to work at the top of their chosen field. 

11) National coverage

Before you commit to a program, check its service areas. Some will only offer courses to specific states or healthcare organizations. 

In addition, if you want your staff to earn a certification, make sure you double-check which certification exam they will prepare their students to take. Many states are very specific about which certifications are acceptable for healthcare workers, and you’ll want to ensure that you are following all of your state laws and regulations. 

Rubric to Evaluate Healthcare Training Programs

Trying to compare all of the different training programs out there can be overwhelming. Using this rubric may help you stay organized and get a fair, comprehensive comparison for each program you are considering for your team.

5 – Exceptional 4 – Good 3 – Average 2 – Below Average 1 – Poor Score Notes
Live sessions
Self or cohort-based
1-on-1 learning
Soft skills training
Hands-on learning
Program competition rate
Certification rate
Total Score

To ensure that you are scoring each selection in the same way, here are some specific instructions for how to evaluate each category. Refer to this guide as you assess different programs and score them on the rubric. 


The first thing you should consider when choosing a program is whether or not it makes financial sense for your institution. 

When evaluating the cost of programs, here are some ideas for scoring:

  • Exceptional: Program costs >50% less than average
  • Good: Program costs 10% to 50% less than average
  • Average: Program costs are very similar to other programs
  • Below Average: Program costs 10% to 50% more than average
  • Poor: Program costs >50% more than average


Getting your employees trained and back to work as quickly as possible is always beneficial as long as they have enough time to learn everything.

When evaluating the speed of programs, here are some ideas for scoring:

  • Exceptional: Program length <50% less than average
  • Good: Program length 10% – 50% less than average
  • Average: Average length when compared to similar programs
  • Below Average: Program is 10% - 50% longer than average
  • Poor: Program is >50% longer than average

Program Completion Rate 

Program completion rate is perhaps the best metric for assessing the quality of a program. Programs with higher completion rates are more likely to be engaging, helpful, and convenient for your staff members to participate in. 

When evaluating the completion rate of programs, here are some ideas for scoring:

  • Exceptional: 80% or greater completion rate
  • Good: 60% to 79% completion rate
  • Average: 40% to 59% completion rate
  • Below Average: Less than 40% completion rate
  • Poor: No data available or offered 

Certification Rate

If you are hoping to help your staff earn their certification, certification rates are just as important as completion rates. 

When evaluating the completion rate of programs, here are some ideas for scoring:

  • Exceptional: 85% or greater certification rate
  • Good: 70% to 84% certification rate
  • Average: 50% to 69% certification rate
  • Below Average: Less than 50% certification rate
  • Poor: No data available or offered


As you look at scheduling, make sure to evaluate whether or not you will be able to give your employees time off to complete their training. 

When evaluating the scheduling of programs, here are some ideas for scoring:

  • Exceptional: Program gives the healthcare organization complete control over scheduling and gives flexibility to each student. 
  • Good: Program allows the healthcare organization to set the schedule but does not offer student flexibility. 
  • Average: Program offers a variety of scheduling options from their own schedule.
  • Below Average: Program offers fewer than 3 choices for program dates and times. 
  • Poor: Program has only one scheduling option for all healthcare facilities. 

Live Sessions

Live sessions show better learning outcomes than pre-recorded sessions or reading materials only. 

When evaluating live sessions of programs, here are some ideas for scoring:

  • Exceptional: Program offers live and recorded lectures where students can interact and ask questions, group chats for students, teacher office hours for individual questions, and includes many interactive learning tools, videos, and reading materials. 
  • Good: Program offers live and recorded lectures, group chat for students, teacher email contact, several interactive learning tools, videos, and reading materials. 
  • Average: Program offers recorded lectures, practice quizzes, videos, and reading materials. 
  • Below Average: Program offers recorded lectures and reading materials.
  • Poor: Program offers recorded lectures or reading materials only. 

Self or Cohort-Based 

A cohort-based program, especially if you can enroll your staff together, should increase your employees’ completion rate of training. 

When evaluating the style of programs, here are some ideas for scoring:

  • Exceptional: Provides cohort-based learning including group interaction with plenty of individual instruction. 
  • Good: Offers an option for organizations to choose either cohort or individual programs
  • Average: Cohort learning with some individualization. 
  • Below Average: Self-study with the ability to chat with other current students.  
  • Poor: Offers self-study only

One-on-One Learning 

Even the brightest students will sometimes need individualized help. Try to find a program that offers one-on-one coaching for your employees. 

When evaluating one-on-one learning, here are some ideas for scoring:

  • Exceptional: Provides unlimited 1:1 coaching for students
  • Good: Offers frequent time slots for 1:1 coaching for students
  • Average: Offers scheduled office hours for students to reach out to instructors
  • Below Average: Offers email contact with instructors. 
  • Poor: No 1:1 student-teacher interactions

Soft Skills Training 

While they can be more difficult to measure, training for soft skills is still crucial for a training program.

Here are some ideas for scoring soft skills training:

  • Exceptional: Can provide evidence of students' improvement in soft skills after completing the program. Incorporates soft skill development into everyday learning. 
  • Good: Teaches >4 soft skills throughout the program. Has specific class outlines, desired outcomes, and rubrics for teaching and assessing soft skills in the classroom. 
  • Average: Includes 3 to 4 soft skills in their course outline.   
  • Below Average: <2  lessons or listed soft skills in their class outline. 
  • Poor: Program offers no soft skill training. 

Hands-on Learning 

Hands-on learning is critical, especially for employees of healthcare organizations. If you choose an online learning platform, make sure your staff will be given opportunities for some in-person practice. 

When evaluating the hands-on component of programs, here are some ideas for scoring:

  • Exceptional: >50% more than average clinical hours
  • Good: 10% to 50% more than average clinical hours
  • Average: Similar to other programs
  • Below Average: 10% to 25% less than average clinical hours 
  • Poor: No hands-on learning offered. 

Learn More About How Stepful’s Healthcare Staffing & Training Solutions

Stepful offers staffing and training solutions for healthcare organizations hoping to improve staff retention, satisfaction, and productivity by upskilling. 

We help students get nationally-recognized certifications and are trusted by leading healthcare organizations such as The Institute for Family Health, New Hope Fertility, the New York Blood Center, and many more. 

We work with you to upskill your employees quickly and effectively, as shown by our remarkable completion and certification rates. We take the guesswork out of putting together an upskilling program and can help you out along the way.

We can help you solve your staffing problems and create an effective upskilling platform by: 

  • Vetting new talent
  • Identifying employees who are ready for advancement
  • Helping you choose training programs that align with your needs
  • Providing high-quality training for your selected employees. 

Stepful offers upskilling programs that can help many different types of healthcare organizations grow. Our training programs include the following certificate programs:

  • Medical Assistant
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Surgical Technologist
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse
  • Ultrasound Technician

We also offer skill-based programs, including:

  • Professionalism and Effective Communication
  • Community Health Workers In Primary Care
  • Introduction To Health Coaching
  • Immunizations
  • Interprofessional Team-Based Care

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