School At Work - Catalyst Learning Company

School at Work (SAW®) is known across US healthcare as the model for training and career development of entry-level healthcare associates. SAW sharpens key behavioral skills to optimize an employee's performance in his/her current role and puts them on a healthcare career path.

The School At Work (SAW®) Story

Why Human Resource and Education Leaders Choose SAW

Hospitals who strive to be great, the destination hospital employers, use SAW for workforce development from the entry-level. Some may think that because entry-level associates do not have clinical responsibilities, they don't affect patient experience. Meanwhile leaders of hospitals who are tuned into all aspects of a high quality patient experience know that every associate impacts it.

SAW is a comprehensive program that strengthens communication, grammar, reading, and writing skills. It also provides employees with ownership for the HCAHPS rating and introduces them to medical terminology. Your employees will gain skills necessary to improve in their current position, develop a personalized career plan, seek technical school or job advancement, and build their confidence to realize a healthcare career.

By creating a more driven and patient-centered atmosphere, satisfaction with and loyalty to your organization expands through all levels of service. Continuing education programs lead to opportunities that make staff feel more valued and confident. This leads to a cultural impact which has ripple effects that go throughout the organization. A health system works best with engaged employees who take ownership in making the patient experience as good as it can be.

SAW helps health systems reduce turnover, increase employee engagement, and prepare employees for the next level of learning. Distinguish your organization as one where everyone has opportunity by joining the over 500 US hospitals who offer School at Work!

What Others are Saying About Us

Many of our hospital customers are the best hospitals in the U.S. to work for! They are recognized by organizations like Fortune 100 and CareerSTAT for achievements in advancing entry-level employees. SAW is honored to be a contributor and partner in these hospitals' employee engagement success. Hear stories from our own SAW customers!

Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System, a 6 hospital system based in Morristown NJ, provides SAW for its frontline employees. Atlantic Health was recently selected by Fortune Magazine as a "Top 100 company in the country to work for" for the ninth consecutive year. Read more about how they use SAW to advance employee skills, to help launch careers.

Mercy Health - Springfield

Providing educational opportunities to frontline co-workers is deeply rooted in the mission of Mercy Health, the sixth largest Catholic health system in the U.S. Learn how its investment nets a huge return.

  • “Who touches and impacts the patient? It's our frontline co-workers. Who has one of the largest impacts on patient experience? Again, it’s the frontline co-workers. When we invest in these co-workers, we enhance the learning and productivity of the organization.” - Sister Claudia Ward, SAW administrator, Mercy Health (Missouri)

  • “I came into healthcare knowing nothing about it. Mercy and the SAW program helped me grow, and that made a huge difference… Anyone who comes to Mercy absolutely has the ability to advance their career if that’s the path they choose.” - Rachel Blankenship, SAW participant, Mercy Health

  • “Career development within a healthcare setting requires a variety of tools available to fit the unique needs of the various employees including their work schedules, family situations and educational goals. School at Work provides the flexibility and scope to be able to identify the specific needs of the employee and select the appropriate tool which best meet the needs.” - Beth Smith, BSN, Employment Support Specialist, Cincinnati Children's Hospital

  • “We want to develop team members, where we have a great deal of diverse talent, and support their upward movement so they are prepared to fill higher-level roles in the future. School at Work has been vetted and validated by other healthcare organizations, so we know it works. With so much going on in health care — transforming at the speed of light — there are too many priorities to build one more thing internally” - Tracy Braman, Human Resources Executive Director, Lakeland Health (Michigan)

Congratulations to Catalyst Learning customers who have been chosen as CareerSTAT Frontline Healthcare Worker Champions and Emerging Champions!

The CareerSTAT Frontline Healthcare Worker Champion program recognizes organizations making significant investments in frontline workers.

Mercy Health, Norton Healthcare, TriHealth, University Health Systems (San Antonio) , UC Davis Health, UnityPoint Health, LifeBridge Health, and Yale New Haven Hospital - Read more about these healthcare leaders, and how they use Catalyst Learning and SAW to obtain workforce development goals.

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions organizes the CareerSTAT awards. Its mission is to drive practices, policies, and investments that enable workers to succeed in good jobs, provide employers with a skilled workforce, and build more prosperous communities. Click here to learn more about this great organization.

Business Outcomes & Return on Investment

Catalyst Learning works with its customers to make sure business goals are defined in advance, met, and measured. The Kirkpatrick Method, the worldwide standard for evaluating the effectiveness of training, is commonly used for learning measurement. It considers the value of any type of training, formal or informal, across four levels:

  • Level 1 - Reaction: evaluates how participants respond to the training.

  • Level 2 - Learning: measures the degree to which the material was learned.

  • Level 3 - Behavior: measured post-course, considers if learning is being applied on the job.

  • Level 4 - Results: evaluates if the training positively impacted the organization.

Business outcome measures that show the effectiveness of learning and contribute to RoI:

  • Completion Rates and Knowledge Mastery

  • Employee Engagement Scores

  • Performance and Productivity Impact

  • Advancement to Higher Education

  • Employee Retention when compared to those not in training


TriHealth noticed 59% higher employee retention after 5 years, as well as significant pay increases when comparing SAW participants to non-participants. Read more!

Norton Healthcare

Norton Healthcare, a hospital system in Louisville KY, is a 2015 CareerSTAT Frontline Healthcare Worker Champion. Norton used SAW to increase skills of frontline workers to advance them in the organization. Norton Healthcare measured SAW participation, promotions, and employees obtaining higher learning to win this distinguished award. Learn more about its journey.

Delivery Model and Curriculum

The flexible content delivery model has a unique set of features to encourage maximum learning and time for student discussion and learning practice.

  • Combines Learning & Career Development

  • Healthcare Specific Curriculum

  • Cohort, Classroom Learning Model

  • Blended Learning: Interactive Videos, Online Modules, & Workbooks

Using adult learning principles with a Blended Learning Model to overcome the unique obstacles of the SAW target student, SAW has produced completion rates considered best practice in adult-learning. A combination of interactive DVD lessons, group activities, and individual workbooks are used in a cohort model - all led by a hospital Education or HR professional. Learn more about our outcomes, CLICK HERE

Module 1 & 2: Life Management Skills
  • Work with a variety of goal-setting techniques to obtain targeted work and personal results

  • Put time management techniques into action to realize more control over your work and personal life

  • Learn to identify causes of stress and explore stress management strategies

Module 3: Mastering Communication in the Workplace
  • Distinguish between verbal and nonverbal communication

  • Understand the steps in the communication process

  • Recognize and identify different communication styles

  • Exercise effective communication skills that meet patient safety and satisfaction standards

  • Realize the importance of being a team player

  • Learn about basic tools for managing conflict situations

Module 4: Principles of Patient Safety and Satisfaction
  • Recognize the importance of the HCAHPS survey

  • Cite reasons why patient satisfaction scores are important to you, and ways you can take ownership in making a positive impact

  • Define a safe healthcare environment

  • Understand the importance of “first do no harm”

  • Recognize the different influences upon patient safety and the individual and organizational level

Module 5: Grammar in the Workplace
  • Identify key parts of speech (nouns, pronouns, and verbs) and how they function in sentences

  • Use punctuation marks correctly to make sentences and paragraphs clear

  • Avoid some of the most commonly made and distracting grammar errors

  • Avoid confusion among words that look alike or are similar in spelling or sound but have different meanings

Module 6: Reading in the Workplace
  • Find main ideas and identify important supporting details

  • Define the correct meaning of a word, whether stated explicitly or implicitly in the text

  • Classify documents according to their purpose

  • Apply techniques for reading comprehension

  • Learn to summarize or draw conclusions from reading material

Module 7: Writing in the Workplace
  • Apply the four steps of the writing process to different workplace topics

  • Write paragraphs using topic sentences and supporting details

  • Implement techniques for improved writing skills including writing legibly, writing often, and applying the 3 Cs of writing: clear, concise, and concrete

  • Integrate customer-focused writing techniques into business writing

  • Apply proven note-taking techniques

  • Recognize key building blocks for developing effective resumes

Module 8 & 9: Applying Math in the Workplace
    Part I
  • Solve workplace problems that require a single type of mathematics operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) using whole numbers

  • Define: fraction, numerator, denominator, proper fraction, improper fraction, mixed number and equivalent fractions

  • Perform the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using fractions

  • Add or subtract negative numbers

  • Convert simple money and time units (e.g., hours to minutes)

  • Part II
  • Perform the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using decimals

  • Given workplace scenarios, change numbers from one form to another using whole numbers, fractions, decimals, or percentage

Module 10 & 11: Medical Terminology
    Part I
  • Define common prefixes, suffixes, and root words in medical terminology

  • Combine prefixes, suffixes, and root words in medical terminology to form new medical terms

  • Use medical terminology book to find the meaning of medical words

  • Translate medical terms and abbreviations

  • Part II
  • Use the medical terminology reference book to find the meaning of medical words

  • Recall the medical terms used to describe body positions

  • Use medical terminology book to find the meaning of medical words

  • Identify and recall the parts of a cell including the nucleus, cytoplasm, and chromosomes

Module 12: Planning for Your Future
  • Evaluate strategies for moving up the career ladder, including continuing education and job advancement opportunities

  • Describe various healthcare careers, including non-clinical careers

  • Assess your knowledge level at the end of SAW

Career & Learning Plan

A Bridge to Career and Higher Education
CLP 4-steps

The Career and Learning Plan is a requirement of completion for SAW students. The (CLP) Center is a four step career exploration process that is rich with resources to help your employees learn about themselves and the opportunities available within your organization.


Students explore their interests, strengths, values, and experience.


Customized Career Interest Survey


Jobs Database and Videos

Local School Search (This enables the student to identify their local options for obtaining that next diploma, certification or degree)


S.M.A.R.T. Goals (Students learn to use and will define SMART goals that will bring their career plan to fruition)

Mercy (Missouri)

Rachel Blankenship had not attained her high school diploma when she began her Mercy career in the Environmental Services Department. After graduating from School at Work, she got her GED, then was accepted to nursing school. She became a registered nurse and today has advanced all the way up to clinical supervisor. “I came into healthcare knowing nothing about it,” she says. Mercy and the SAW program “helped me grow, and that made a huge difference… Anyone who comes to Mercy absolutely has the ability to advance their career if that’s the path they choose.

TriHealth (Ohio)

A few years after starting a secretarial position at TriHealth, Stephanie enrolled in TriHealth’s School at Work program. SAW motivated Stephanie to participate in HCC’s nursing cohort. With prepaid tuition, additional SAW grant funds, and evening course schedule, she made her dream of becoming a scrub nurse possible. Stephanie graduated with her ADN, obtained her license soon after, and became a staff RN for TriHealth. Her pay has increased more than 50 percent since this journey began.

Yale New Haven Hospital (Connecticut)

When he decided to advance his career in healthcare, YNHH employee James Myers decided to increase his skill level. Through School at Work, he brushed up on his knowledge before he registered for the radiology program at a nearby community college. “I had been out of school for about 10 years,” he said. “The SAW Program was a really good experience because it was a refresher.

UnityPoint Health (Iowa)

In 2012, Wendy Fausett started working for UnityPoint Health as a frontline employee working in housekeeping. Although Wendy wanted to advance herself at UnityPoint Health, she thought that her criminal background and a lack of formal higher education would prevent her from advancement. However, by working with UnityPoint’s Retention Specialist, Wendy realized that possessing the right skills was the most important factor in advancement and that her background would not stop her from securing a promotion. Enrolled in UnityPoint’s School at Work program, Wendy started developing managerial, interview, and professional skills, which allowed her to successfully apply for and secure a promotion as a housekeeping supervisor. Wendy’s training led to both career advancement and a wage increase of more than $5.00 per hour.

Mercy Health Youngstown (Ohio)

Janette Johnson worked in Environmental Services, where managers recognized her leadership potential and recommended Janette for School at Work. After SAW completion, she enrolled at a Penn State satellite college and is studying to be an Occupational Therapy Assistant.