Chicago hospitals team up to help entry-level workers advance careers
Chicago hospitals are teaming up to help employees in non-clinical, entry-level positions advance their careers.
In a collaboration with community groups and public institutions, four local health systems—Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Rush University Medical Center and the University of Chicago Medicine—have created a program to fill high-demand medical assistant jobs, the organizations said in a joint statement Tuesday.
The Medical Assistant Pathway Program gives full-time hospital employees the opportunity to complete Malcolm X College's medical assisting certification program, which prepares individuals to become registered medical assistants and phlebotomy technicians.
The employment of medical assistants, who complete administrative and clinical tasks, "is projected to grow 29 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations," according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An increase in outpatient services is one reason for the demand, Nicole Gilson-Barmore, manager of talent development at Rush University Medical Center, said in an email.
Chicago's healthcare ecosystem is uniquely positioned to "take people from the community and put them in entry-level jobs, take them from entry-level jobs and help facilitate clinical training, and then they can go from clinical training to other areas," said Third Horizon Strategies founder David Smith, who is not involved with the program. "An organized pipeline for professional development in underserved communities, done well and over an extended period of time, can have an important socioeconomic impact on the community."
INVESTING IN TALENT
Twenty-nine hospital employees, including clinic coordinators and food service aides, were selected to participate from a pool of more than 300 applicants. In addition to full tuition assistance, participants will receive a transportation subsidy and career coaching, including resume and job interview support.
Health systems recognize "they have people that they've brought in from the community and they're capable, they're ambitious, they're willing to be trained," Smith said, adding that the investment in talent development could improve productivity and retention.
The Medical Assistant Pathway Program officially kicks off when participants start at Malcolm X College in January, but September marked the "soft start," where participants took an introduction to biology course and a writing workshop at Erie Neighborhood House, said Veenu Verma, principal at Chicago-based Civic Consulting Alliance, which helped guide the collaborative initiative.
"One of the pieces we were very cognizant of is that, for many adult learners, they haven't been in a classroom for a while," she said. "To begin this program, participants had to be college ready—both in math and English—so we wanted to make sure we built in enough support."
In addition to the four hospitals, Civic Consulting Alliance, Malcolm X College and Erie Neighborhood House, groups like World Business Chicago and West Side United supported the initiative. Financial support was provided by the hospitals' tuition assistance programs, the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance.
"It really did take a village," Verma said.
She added that the coalition has already started thinking about what the program will look like in fall 2019, as other local hospitals have expressed an interest in participating.
"Chicago hospitals team up to help entry-level workers advance careers" originally appeared in Crain's Chicago Business.
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