Oct. 22, 2015 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College is part of a West Michigan collaboration that will launch the state's first accredited medical assistant program in a registered apprenticeship format.
Representatives of the U.S. Department of Labor recently joined colleagues from GRCC, West Michigan Works!, Mercy Health, Cherry Health, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Spectrum Health, Montcalm Community College and Muskegon Community College to formally sign the apprenticeship standards. The registered apprenticeship is the first in the nation for a medical assistant program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Linda Witte, program developer and manager of health programs for GRCC Workforce Development, said the apprenticeship program, scheduled to start in January, will meet a pressing need in West Michigan's health-care workforce.
"GRCC's new medical assistant apprenticeship initiative is an opportunity to deepen our partnerships with health-care employers, neighboring community colleges, West Michigan Works! and the Department of Labor," she said. "These apprenticeships allow students to work while they gain skills toward the national Registered Medical Assistant credential. This consortium will again allow West Michigan to lead in opportunities that directly benefit its residents."
West Michigan Works! will screen those who are interested in the program and help them assemble a career portfolio. Those who successfully complete the screening will be referred to employers who have entry-level positions. Once hired, they enroll in GRCC's apprenticeship program -- allowing them to earn a paycheck while completing the training to become a medical assistant.
The medical assistant program is just the latest apprenticeship opportunity at GRCC. Amy Koning, associate dean of operations, said more than 580 GRCC students are already involved in apprenticeships in manufacturing and the construction trades.
"The disciplines within manufacturing include machinists, electrical maintenance, plastics, welding millwright, industrial maintenance and sheet metal," she said. "In addition to the new medical assistant program, we are also excited to expand into the IT arena, with the announcement that GRCC and Macomb Community College have been awarded a $3.9 million grant to create and expand our apprenticeship opportunities."
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.