Apprentice Program

Three local Candidates complete medical assistant apprentice program at creekside clinic

Three local candidates have completed a Medical Assistant Training program sponsored by Creekside Family Health Clinic, in partnership with The State of Alaska Employment Security Division, and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship. Jane Bolima, NCMA; Kim Rodriguez, NCMA; and Shalie Hageman, NCMA have each completed the academic, clinical training, and examination requirements to receive certification as Nationally Certified Medical Assistants (NCMA) through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

The federally registered apprenticeship program included 4000 clinical practice hours and a year-long distance education program through Penn Foster University. “We are very proud of all they have accomplished” says, Lani Hill, Family Nurse Practitioner and clinic owner. “I think it has been a real challenge for them to complete the program and balance it with all their other commitments. Of course the best part is that they’ll hopefully stay with us as highly valued employees.”

Although the scope of practice for Medical Assistants varies state-by-state, they provide an important role supporting a variety of clinical and administrative tasks delegated and supervised by licensed medical professionals such as nurses and doctors. For example, they are qualified to take vital signs and check-in patients, assist with procedures, draw and process laboratory blood specimens, coordinate referrals, administer limited medications, and maintain medical records among other supervised tasks. “They have really become an important part of the clinic team” says John Hill, Clinic Manager. “It’s been very satisfying watching them grow as people and as professionals. In Ketchikan, recruiting and attracting folks with these qualifications can be pretty challenging. So we do what Ketchikan does best: grow our own”.

The apprenticeships were co-sponsored and financed by the State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), Office of Apprenticeship is the registration agency and the program is registered as part of the National Apprenticeship System. “Registered Apprenticeship helps the employer meet their demand for skilled workers”, says Lymus Capehart, USDOL Apprenticeship and Training Representative. “Registered Apprenticeship helps build careers where everyone wins.”

The State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, through the local Ketchikan Job Center, played a key role to secure the funding and provide guidance to the apprentices. “Melissa Cruise, our Vocational Counselor, lead the way in creating this much-needed apprenticeship opportunity. The Career Support & Training Services (CSTS) program paid the tuition and testing fees that prepared the students to gain national certification,” said Barbara Truitt, CSTS case manager with the Ketchikan Job Center. “Our mission is to strengthen Alaska’s workforce and encourage economic development by providing quality career support and training services. This newly formed apprenticeship could potentially become a model for various health care providers to implement across the state.

For all of the apprentices, the program presented an opportunity to build upon previous experiences in health services. “There simply wasn’t a training opportunity available to me elsewhere in the community and I’m grateful for it.” says Jane Bolima. Kim Rodriguez, for her part notes “What’s been great about the program is that it has allowed me to take a big step forward in my career while at the same time earning a living”. Shalie Hageman, the third apprentice, agrees. “It’s been a great experience. Especially since it allowed me to keep doing what I love to do”.