Twenty-four aspiring medical assistants recently took a break from their classwork to celebrate the halfway point in the MA Registered Apprenticeship Program (MARAP). Program partners Grand Rapids Community College, Muskegon Community College, West Michigan Works!, Mercy Health, Cherry Health and Spectrum Health were there to share in the milestone celebration and hear about the students’ journeys-to-date.
The students are the first cohort of MARAP apprentices. The program, a U.S. Department of Labor registered apprenticeship and the first-of-its-kind in the nation, combines rigorous coursework with clinical application. The program was created to meet local healthcare providers’ critical need for qualified Medical Assistants (MAs) and provide an entry point for individuals to grow into a variety of careers in the industry.
Jamie Noeker, an apprentice studying at Grand Rapids Community College and working at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, was a stay-at-home mom for nine years. While she had previously worked in healthcare administration, she wanted to work with patients. “I love that we take what we learn in the classroom and immediately apply it in a work setting,” said Noeker. “The preceptors [physicians who supervise the apprentices] and our instructors have noticed that we are more prepared than students following a more traditional path.”
Teresa Beltran was taking general courses at Muskegon Community College. She was just about to give up on her studies when she saw a flyer for the MA Apprenticeship program. She applied, was accepted and is now working for Mercy Health in Muskegon. “This program has changed my life,” said Beltran. “I’m a hands-on kind of person, so being able to immediately apply what I’m learning in the clinical setting is perfect for me. I can’t imagine doing anything else. ”
MARAP is currently recruiting individuals and healthcare providers for its second program cycle. In addition to GRCC and Muskegon Community College, Montcalm Community College hopes to offer course work for the next round of apprentices. Interested individuals can fill out an application of interest at www.westmiworks.org. Healthcare providers can call Kristie Scarffe at (616) 336-3261.
According to West Michigan Works!, the Medical Assistant Registered Apprenticeship Program (MARAP) provides consistent quality standards, greater access to federal funding and a national, industry-recognized credential for graduates. MARAP is administered by West Michigan Works!. More information can be found at westmiworks.org/news.