Only program of its kind in the nation

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I.   University Medicine (UM), a nonprofit primary care, specialty outpatient and sub-specialty medical group practice with over 200 physicians and multiple patient care locations across the state, announces the launch of its Apprenticeship for medical assistants employed by UM who wish to become Licensed Practical Nurses.

The apprenticeship is the result of a collaborative effort initiated by UM between Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) and facilitated by Apprenticeship Rhode Island.  It is funded in part by University Medicine and by a grant from the State of Rhode Island Governor’s Workforce Board.

University Medicine’s program marks the first time an apprenticeship is tied to an LPN curriculum in the nation,” states Dr. Louis B. Rice, president and CEO of University Medicine. “No other program like this for LPNs exists – the closest apprenticeship program model can be found in England.  It is also groundbreaking for CCRI to offer such a customized program onsite to meet the specific needs of our employees.  We are grateful for this highly collaborative effort that results in significant career growth opportunity for our staff.”

UM’s LPN Apprenticeship trains medical assistants on staff who are interested in pursuing careers as licensed practical nurses.  CCRI staff assesses the level of academic readiness for program candidates and identifies required courses needed to successfully enter the Practical Nursing Program at CCRI.

“We are seeing employers eager to have academic opportunities to offer to their employees,” comments CCRI VP of Academic Affairs Rosemary Castigan.

After the course curriculum was developed, Apprenticeship RI worked with UM to design and develop the apprenticeship phase of the program, acting as intermediary between the state for registering the apprenticeship and assisting with required documentation. “Once the UM employees enter the nine-month Apprenticeship, they can continue working a reduced schedule,” explains Dr. Rice.  “Although the curriculum timeframe was customized for our employees, the content and rigor of the program remains unchanged and is exactly what a non-UM employee would go through if they were enrolled in CCRI’s LPN program on a full-time basis.

“Apprenticeship in the healthcare sector makes sense,” comments Andrew Cortés, executive director of Building Futures-home to Apprenticeship RI.   “University Medicine is a great example, using apprenticeship to upskill medical assistants to become licensed practical nurses through an innovative partnership with us and the Community College of RI.  Standardizing the skill levels of these critically important caregivers ensures that everyone wins” Cortés concluded.

See coverage on Turn to 10.