Goshen Health, a network of primary care physicians and specialists in Northern Indiana, was in desperate need of job applicants to fill open medical assistant positions. In May 2021, when many healthcare workers were feeling burned out by the COVID-19 pandemic, Goshen had 36 unfilled positions.
The organization realized it needed to develop a steady pool of people trained to fill those roles, rather than competing for a limited pool of already trained and credentialed candidates, said Kyle Bachman, senior recruiter at Goshen. But on its own, it only had the capacity to offer 10 or 12 internships — far fewer than its employment needs, he noted.
In 2021, Goshen teamed up with MedCerts — a provider of career certification training in health-related careers — to offer medical assistant training. Medical assistants may administer medications, assist with minor procedures, record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patients and exam rooms, handle laboratory specimens, and provide patient education.
Bachmann was amazed by the 35 to 40 responses from more than 500 Goshen employees who indicated they were interested in the training. Many were individuals working in food service, housekeeping, and entry-level administrative positions.
“Many of our graduates are people who didn’t have the opportunity to go back to school,” he noted.
[See Career Pathways Help Workers Become Nurses]
The first group, assembled in June 2021, consisted of seven students. Goshen has had 246 applicants apply or inquire as of January 2022.
Goshen admits seven to eight students every two months.
“For ease of operations … we can’t have too many students at one time,” Bachmann explained.
It aims to have around 40 trainees per year; to date, 32 people have enrolled and there is a waiting list for acceptance into the program. Individuals who successfully complete the program and pass the National Health Association exam immediately begin employment at Goshen as a medical assistant.
The partnership with MedCerts “increased our [student] flow and allowed us to promote internally and increase the knowledge pool of clinical candidates,” Bachmann said. And they’ve all found jobs.
“Between growth and expected attrition, we’ve had spots available for all new graduates so far.”
The program “was a great eye-opener for us as an organization that this is what we need to do to be sustainable,” he said, adding that Goshen has begun recruiting sterile processing technicians, with modules for the position added to its curriculum. program.
How the program works
Applicants for the training must be 18 years of age and have completed secondary education. No previous healthcare experience or medical education is required to enter the training. MedCerts screens applicants and Bachmann interviews them.
Students work at their own pace. Participants typically take six months to complete their online training, although some finish in three or four months, according to Bachmann.
Modules cover topics such as medical terminology and human anatomy. Students repeat modules until they pass them, and MedCert advisors are available to answer questions about the material and offer one-on-one mentoring.
After successfully completing the modules, students meet with the clinical practice tutor who works with them during their 120-hour internship. During this time, students have hands-on training in a wide range of duties – administration of injections and immunizations; collection of samples for clinical research; billing and insurance claims processing; inventory management and patient information; preparing patients for examinations; use of electronic health record systems; and scheduling appointments.
During the internship, students rotate to one or two of Goshen’s 30 outpatient clinics. Most internships are in general practice, but they may assist in specialty clinics in gastrointestinal, cardiac and vascular, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, or urology.
Goshen’s investment is $4,000 per student, and participants agree to remain at Goshen for two years after graduation.
“If there are performance issues, we often find another partner in the organization rather than lose the colleague,” Bachmann said SHRM online. “However, if a MedCerts student resigns during the period of their commitment, they are responsible for paying their tuition fees.”
Stephanie Isley, 36, is an accounting coordinator for Goshen who decided to continue her education. Ailey once dreamed of becoming a nurse, but a brain injury from a car accident combined with an autoimmune disease that causes her to take intermittent leave changes her plans to attend nursing school.
Because the training is online, she said, her studies aren’t interrupted when she takes intermittent medical leave because she works at her own pace. Meanwhile, she works remotely to support herself and her 12-year-old son. In her free time, she devotes 16 hours a week to clinical training at two family clinics.
For now, she has no plans to leave her 29-person department, but she plans to eventually specialize as a neurology medical assistant.
“The support of Goshen and everyone at MedCerts made this so seamless for me,” said Isley. The training allows her to work in the medical field “without four years of study and without all the debt that comes with it.”