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Human Resources Apprenticeship Program Now Has A Medical Field

For years, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Human Resources Department’s Apprenticeship Program for Community members has offered programs to train individuals in computer, carpentry and hotel trades. Now it will be giving apprentices the chance to explore the medical field through two new programs, Medical Assistant with Phlebotomy and Dental Assistant.

The SRPMIC Apprenticeship Program has been exploring ways to offer a medical training program for a few years, and through a partnership with Arizona College School of Allied Health it is now ready. The classes for Medical and Dental Assistant will be offered at the college’s Mesa campus.

Workforce Development Manager James Smith and Community Employment Senior Manager Crystal Banuelos oversee the program.

“Our goal is to strengthen our workforce for the Community, and this field seemed very appropriate, with the Northeast Ambulatory Clinic that is now in the planning stages for development,” said Banuelos. “[When determining what kinds of career training to offer], it’s always important to assess the status of the Community and future projects and developments.”

The Medical Assistant with Phlebotomy program is a 30-week program with 710 hours of coursework in more than 15 different health-related classes such as Medical Terminology, Patient Diagnostics and Medical Insurance. At the end of the 30 weeks, students will be required to complete a five-week externship working in a hospital, clinic or private practice, which will provide the students with the necessary hands-on experience.

Also, students must complete 4,000 hours of on-the-job training to obtain their Journeyman’s Certificate of Completion. Once the students have completed the required coursework and externship, they will take the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam; this credential is offered through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

Duties of medical assistants vary from office to office and generally include answering phones, greeting patients, recording vital signs, performing lab tests and ordering supplies.

The Dental Assistant program is 38 weeks and includes 1,020 hours of coursework covering about 20 dental-related topics such as Infection Control, Radiology and Oral Health. Upon completion of the program, each student is required to participate in a 10-week off-campus clinical externship in a dental-practice setting. The first five weeks will be working in a general dental office, and the remaining five weeks will be at a specialized practice, such as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, orthodontist or periodontist.

In addition to the 10-week externship, the dental assistant students must complete 2,000 hours of on-the-job training to obtain their Journeyman’s license. Once the students have completed the required coursework and externship, they will take the DANB ICE (Dental Assisting National Board Infection Control Exam). Having this certification gives the students an edge over other applicants without this certification, provides greater earning power, and contributes to their level of competency. Dental assistants perform a variety of patient-care, office and laboratory duties, and they often work chair-side as dentists examine and treat patients.

The Apprenticeship Program hopes that each student in these new medical trades will apply for jobs and get hired, and maybe be interested in bringing back their knowledge, skills and experience to the Community.

“We are constantly assessing the calendar for future trades,” said Banuelos. “We anticipate Medical Support and Allied Health to continue to be recurring offerings, as well as other types of trades.”

Banuelos added that it’s always the goal of SRPMIC Human Resources to offer career training in fields that are in demand and that will allow students to have a steady foundation for their career paths.

“Our goal is to offer these programs so that they may have a career they will be happy with, and therefore allow them to stay committed to it for several years of their future,” she said.