No Medical Assistant Left Behind

Sep 25, 2020

Congratulations to our Medical Assistant apprentices, who all just passed the national Medical Assistant Certification (CCMA) exam!

These 18 apprentices started the program with the Health Care Apprenticeship Consortium (HCAC) and Kaiser Permanente of Washington in September 2019. The apprentices are from Western Washington — from Kitsap to Issaquah and Olympia to Everett. They have been employed full-time by Kaiser Permanente and are paid for classroom and lab time (but not homework time). This is the gold standard for apprenticeship programs and makes the program especially suited for working adults, people with children, and anyone else who needs to have evenings and weekends free.

Dayna Jollimore is a single mom with three kids who is an MA apprentice. Before hearing about this apprenticeship program, Dayna was working at the Kaiser call center and looking at the Renton Technical College’s MA program, but the class schedule deterred her. “With the apprenticeship program, I’m still home every single night with my kids and I have the weekends with my kids… Financially [this program is] not a burden on me, which is really nice. There’s something new to learn every day, whether it’s in class or at the clinic,” Dayna said.

Another MA apprentice, Daniel Floresca, said that he chose this apprenticeship program “because it provided me an opportunity to pursue my dream career while solving the question of how to pay for it.” Before this program, he was working a series of customer service jobs that culminated at the front desk for Kaiser Permanente. He wants to directly make a difference in the lives of patients. “I truly enjoyed being able to practice everything I was learning in class the week I learned it in an on-the-job setting. It is a lot of work, but the rewards are worth it.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring, the apprentices had to quickly adjust to online learning. By the summer, they were able to participate in special lab training sessions with strict safety protocols and full Personal Protective Equipment (gowns, face shields, gloves, masks, etc.). In August, the apprentices completed their classroom and lab work (also called Related Supplemental Instruction in apprenticeship programs).

The apprentices worked hard to prepare for the three-hour national exam on August 31. Their motto was “No MA left behind” — they studied together and worked with the Training Fund’s Regional Education Navigators to schedule tutoring sessions. (Tutoring is one of the Training Fund’s services provided to members and to HCAC apprentices). The apprentices’ efforts paid off when all of them passed the exam! A 100 percent pass rate is very unusual!

Within a month or two the apprentices will also complete their on-the-job learning & competency practices. After graduation, they’ll receive their Medical Assistant-Certified (MA-C) license from Washington State and start their full-time jobs with Kaiser Permanente of Washington.

“Kaiser Permanente is proud to participate in the nation’s first Multi-Employer, Multi-Union Apprenticeship Program as a way to impact the future workforce in Healthcare. As a leading healthcare provider in Washington state and across the country, we are committed to offering economic opportunity to those in our local communities. By providing the space to earn and learn simultaneously, we’re well-positioned to develop medical assistants that will make a difference in providing excellent service to our members, the patients we serve, and our community as a whole.” – Susan Mullaney, President, Kaiser Permanente Foundation of Washington

The Health Care Apprenticeship Consortium is open to all healthcare employers in Washington and is preparing additional apprenticeship programs for Medical Assistants, Sterile Processing Technicians, Pharmacy Technicians, and Certified Nursing Assistants. The Consortium works with employers to create apprenticeship programs that work for them — in the occupations identified above or a different one. The Consortium is the solution to recruit and train healthcare employees.

The Healthcare Apprenticeship Consortium is sponsored by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Multi-Employer Training and Education Fund. The Consortium is a Washington State-registered Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee whose membership includes partners from healthcare employers, labor unions, and Washington State.