Since 2015, the AHIMA Foundation’s apprenticeship program has been working to help health information management (HIM) professionals enter the workforce and gain skills on the job. Funded by a grant from the US Department of Labor, the program is still seeking apprentices and sponsors. The following slideshow offers an update on the program and explains how to get involved.
An apprenticeship program can be an exciting way for program-registered employers to cultivate and retain talented HIM professionals, and a career-launching step for apprentices. The AHIMA Foundation’s federally funded apprenticeship program addresses the gap between academic training and the skills needed to ensure workforce readiness.
In 2015, the AHIMA Foundation received a US Department of Labor American Apprenticeship Initiative grant, a $4.9 million, five year grant to develop health information apprenticeships and provide the role specific technical training. Thanks to help from the Department of Labor and their resources, the AHIMA Foundation began working with employers for the apprenticeship program within six months of the award announcement. The goal is to place 1,200 apprentices with employers by 2020.
There is still time for HIM workforce professionals, potential employers, and HIM students to become involved in the apprenticeship program. Potential employers can have their registered apprentices undergo free training through the registered apprenticeship program to build their organization’s talent pipeline by contacting the AHIMA Foundation at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Aspiring apprentices should consider attending one of the quarterly webinars offered by the AHIMA Foundation. Visit www.ahimafoundation.org/prodev/apprentice.aspx to learn more about the program’s signup process and the foundation’s resources.
Everyone benefits from a HIM apprenticeship. Apprentices may receive paid on-the-job learning that is structured, supervised, and guided by a mentor. They can increase their skills and competencies, which are tied to higher earning potential. The apprenticeship program also expands opportunities for underrepresented populations, such as single working mothers, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. The AHIMA Foundation is currently developing additional apprenticeship roles based on employer feedback; for example a privacy and security officer role.
Employers that participate in the program may be able to customize immersion training for hospital coding, coding professionals, and clinical documentation improvement roles, while instilling common employability skills. They also gain the ability to bring on apprentices at a reduced salary and potentially qualify for state incentives for hiring apprentices. Hiring apprentices can help reduce turnover and improve retention—as well as the “greater good” of helping to establish a pipeline of skilled apprentices and training the next generation of HIM professionals.
According to the Department of Labor, approximately 91 percent of workers who complete a Registered Apprenticeship Program remain employed with the company where they completed their apprenticeship. Brigetta Harold, RHIT, CCS, an HIM director in a Texas-based healthcare facility, wanted to add a clinical documentation improvement specialist to her team. She hired an applicant who had all the right skills, except for coding knowledge. “With support from the AHIMA Foundation Apprenticeship team and the Texas Department of Labor we hired her for the position. The apprentice is an enthusiastic student and has progressed through the CDIP modules at a steady pace and is now preparing her first educational presentation for the medical staff,” Harold says. “She has been an ideal fit for both the apprenticeship and the job.”
Mary Butler is the associate editor at The Journal of AHIMA.