With close to 100 job openings predicted for medical assistants in Grand Rapids in the coming year and not enough people to fill them, hospitals in West Michigan are starting an apprenticeship program that combines a paying job with education. Medical assisting jobs often serve as stepping stones to other types of careers in healthcare that require additional education.
West Michigan hospitals partnered with Michigan Works to create this pilot program. Candidates will work while they get the training to become credentialed, licensed medical assistants. The program will take 18 months to two years, and students will pay little or no tuition. Michigan Works, state training funds, employers, scholarships, and federal financial aid will cover the costs. Employers are eligible for $3,000 per worker in state training funds, because the apprenticeship program is approved by the Michigan Department of Labor.
Starting in January, students will attend school 20-24 hours a week, and additionally, work 20-24 hours a week. At Mercy Health, they will perform clerical work and tasks commonly performed in physicians’ offices. Additional collaborators include:
- Spectrum Health
- Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital
- Metro Health
- Cherry Health
- Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
The apprenticeship program is expected to draw a range of applicants ranging from high school students to older adults. Organizers estimate that the program will have 20-23 students the first year. The current goal is to begin selecting candidates this October.
The program is currently run through the office of Michigan Works, which includes Allegan, Kent, and Barry counties. In October, it will expand to include Muskegon, Ottawa, Ionia, and Montcalm counties.