Finding and retaining a trained workforce in rural hospitals is challenging. Like other New England and rural medical centers, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, NH, has had an increasing need for clinical practice team members, especially medical assistants (MA). Local programs were not producing enough graduates to meet their needs, so team members from across the hospital, including clinical education, talent acquisition, primary care and human resources, joined forces to create a collaborative and innovative program for training MAs and keeping them at Memorial.
The result of this collaboration is Memorial’s Medical Assistant Apprenticeship Program (MAAP), a partnership with White Mountains Community College (WMCC), a credit-bearing certificate program aimed at providing an employee-based apprenticeship.
“WMCC students have been coming to Memorial for years to complete the clinical portion of their program. We know the quality of the program, and many graduates are working here making a difference in the lives of our patients. This is a great partnership helping students begin their healthcare journey while keeping amazing talent here in the community where we need them.”
— Kris Dascoulias, BSN,RN
Chief Nursing Officer, Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital’s first Medical Assistant Apprenticeship Program students and members of the clinical team. (Back row, L-R) Marta Ramsey, RN, Clinical Educator; Sherri Spittle; Jennifer Tozier; Sam Dickinson; Alyssa Rosa and Charles Thagouras. (Front row, L-R) Jessica Hill; Kristin Hatch; Jade Danforth and Betsy Koplin, RN, Clinical Manager.
MAAP participants are hired as full-time employees and concurrently enrolled in college. They take classes, shadow team members across the organization, and have group and individual study time. They have the unique opportunity to learn about quality, population health, practice administration and patient care firsthand. At the end of the nine-month program, participants are certified MAs and are already immersed in the Memorial culture, ready to hit the ground running and commit to working for the next two years at Memorial Hospital.
Funding for tuition and fees comes from Memorial’s annual golf tournament, plus support from the Ann De Nikola Trust of Citizen’s Bank and the Mary Louise Billings Trust of Citizen’s Bank.
“This has been a great team effort between WMCC and Memorial Hospital in creating a flexible and convenient medical assistant training program for individuals interested in starting a career in healthcare and doing so in a way that will have them fully job-ready in less than one year’s time,” says WMCC Coordinator of Workforce Development and Community Education Tamara Roberge. “We look forward to working with the hospital and doing our part in ensuring that our community’s needs are being met by collaborating on ways to fill high-demand positions in healthcare.”
WMCC’s Medical Assistant Certificate program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs upon the recommendation of Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB).