Women & Infants Hospital Launches Medical Coding Apprenticeship Program

Collaboration and team work have resulted in the successful launch of Care New England’s first Medical Coding Apprenticeship program at Women & Infants Hospital, and the first Medical Coding Apprenticeship in the state of RI. Care New England’s management team and the labor union, SEIU 1199NE, have worked together to develop every aspect of the apprenticeship program including: measurable competencies, related training and predictable wage increases. They have formed an apprenticeship committee to review program changes, evaluate candidates and have even funded a contracted position that will help expand this exciting work system-wide.

With six new apprentices on board, the results have been immediate. Donna Sprague, Preceptor for the Medical Coding Apprentices says that she attributes the apprenticeship program’s structured on-the-job-learning and mentorship as the reason for the initial cohorts successful adoption of the program. “The Apprentices all know what to expect in order to succeed. They take classes as a cohort, help each other earn passing grades resulting in certification.” The results are more than anecdotal, Renee Vuz, Manager, HIM reports that the department saw a lower bill hold last quarter. “These results allow more movement and cross-functional work between Coders.”

“The goals for this program are large, but very achievable” says Jen Couri, Director of HIM, Coding and Revenue Integrity. “We have already seen an increase in our Coders cross-functional capacity. When Medical Coders can code both outpatient and inpatient records, the hospital experiences increased productivity and billable hours. With a grow your own talent model, we expect to save our department substantial overhead costs.”

In September 2015, Care New England, in partnership with Apprenticeship/RI was the recipient a Department of Labor’s American Apprenticeship Initiative grant to expand apprenticeship as a model to industries outside of the trades, including the healthcare sector. To date, Care New England has registered four apprenticeship programs including: Coding, Nursing and Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor. With multiple occupations in the pipeline, apprenticeship is a model that provides on the job learning, along with classroom instruction, to upskill current employees and provide career pathways system-wide.

Apprenticeship RI and the Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP) have worked closely with all partners to provide support from: program design and registration to curriculum implementation, competency evaluation to mentor/supervising coaching.


The Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP) is a national labor/management organization that promotes innovation and quality in healthcare career education. Its board includes Service Employees International Union (SEIU) locals and healthcare employers across all sectors of healthcare.  H-CAP has experts, tools, and resources to support healthcare employers interested in starting a Registered Apprenticeship program. To learn more about H-CAP, visit: https://www.hcapinc.org/