Adventist Health is rolling out a workforce development effort, in partnership with COPE Health Solutions, that includes its own medical assistant school and specialized educational programs for other health professionals.

According to a press release, rural communities can find it difficult to recruit and retain physicians and medical professionals – this includes medical assistants who are sometimes the first caregiver that patients see in a clinic or medical office as they check blood pressure temperature and other health indicators.

Demand for physicians, nurses and other health professionals is expected to outpace supply. Jobs for medical assistants, for example, are expected to increase by 19 percent by 2029 compared to 4 percent for all occupations over the same period, according to a press release.

An aging health care workforce, combined with current graduation rates for medical and health professionals, are leading to predictions of increasing workforce shortages.

“Adventist Health is launching this workforce development program with COPE Health Solutions to support our strategic vision of well-being, which means helping our community members live their best lives,” said John Beaman, Adventist Health chief people and business officer. “This program will provide opportunities for health care education in hopes that local residents will find fulfilling careers and remain in these at-need communities we serve, which also will help address the pressing need to attract more people into health professions.”

Adventist Health’s workforce development programs aim to provide opportunities to college and high school students, recent graduates and community members seeking advancement or career changes. Health care consulting and workforce development firm COPE Health Solutions developed the structure and curriculum of the programs in collaboration with Adventist Health and will run the programs on a day-to-day basis.

This year’s plans include:

– Opening the COPE Health Scholars Medical Assistant Program, a seven-month educational program that combines virtual courses with 200 hours of clinic-based learning and training with patients and clinician mentors. Scholarships will be available. In the first year, Adventist Health’s hospitals and clinics in Mendocino County and Central Valley communities will be participating. According to the COPE Health Scholars website, more locations are expected to be added in 2022.

– Creating programs for recruiting, training and retaining clinical and allied health professionals such as clinical lab scientists, physical therapists and registered nurses.

– Expanding the experimental COPE Health Scholars program, which provides aspiring health care professionals the opportunity to gain in-person experience and learning while providing support to patients and clinicians.

Graduates of the COPE Health Scholars programs will receive a certificate of completion from the UCLA Executive Programs in Health Policy and Management, according to a press release. Students who complete the COPE Health Scholars Medical Assistant program will also be positioned to take the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant exam pre-accreditation and the Certified Medical Assistant exam post-accreditation.

Adventist Health/Rideout was not listed among the locations in the press release or website.  

For more information on the COPE Health Scholars program and the medical assistant school sponsored by Adventist Health, visit https://copehealthscholars.org/programs/medical-assistant-school. 

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