Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Clock is Ticking on HIM Apprenticeship Programs!

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) held its annual Leadership Symposium on July 13-14, 2018.  This symposium is an incredible learning experience and engagement opportunity for Component State Association (CSA) and AHIMA leadership.  It is an opportunity to network, and develop new relationships and friendships.  The main focus is on learning AHIMA’s strategic direction, the healthcare industry’s best practices that affect health information management, and innovative ideas within the HIM profession.  In addition to the General Sessions where important topics are presented, the breakout sessions provided a smaller setting where pertinent topics were discussed.  
I attended the “Apprenticeship Program/Career Enhancement” breakout session presented by Barb Gondys, MA, RHIA, CHPS.  Ms. Gondys was an outstanding speaker!  She reminded us that the AHIMA Foundation, the 501(c)(3) affiliate of AHIMA, was awarded a five-year Apprenticeship Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2015.  This $4.9 million grant is to provide employers with an opportunity to bring on newly credentialed HIM professionals and enhance the skillset of current employees.  The Apprenticeship Program is of no cost to the employer because the grant pays to provide training for the hired apprentice.

The goal of the Apprenticeship Program is to bridge the gap between a student’s academic training and the technical skills they need to move into the workforce.  The program also provides paid workforce development opportunities for current employees to receive advanced education and training to prepare them for upskilled HIM jobs within their organization.

The thing is, many attendees in this session, myself included, had no idea this program still has time before it ends, resources to be used, and apprenticeship positions to be filled!  At the beginning of the program, the AHIMA Foundation set a goal to assist 1,000 apprentices to a new credential.  So far, there are only 202 apprenticeship positions that have been filled!  The program will end on September 30, 2020 so there is still time to take advantage of this amazing workforce readiness and integral transition opportunity.  Facilities are encouraged to become a registered apprenticeship site.  Graduating students and current employees are encouraged to apply and register for this Apprenticeship Program as soon as possible.  The HIM profession is encouraged to take advantage of this “workforce pipeline” opportunity to grow our workforce to keep pace with our ever changing environment.

Several key takeaways from this breakout session are:

  • Coursework is all online and takes approximately one year to complete 
  • On-the-job training takes about one year (2080 hours) to complete
  • General components of the program include: 
    • An employer focus (based on the needs of employers and meeting that need with recent HIM program graduates and current employees within their organization)
    • Related technical instruction
    • On-the-job training
    • Reward for skills learned (credential, salary increase, promotion 
  • Funds pay for training using AHIMA products including the online coursework and the first credentialing exam (based on the apprenticeship role) 
  • Apprentices are awarded a Certificate of Completion from the U.S. Department of Labor
  • The U.S. Department of Labor says approximately 91% of workers who complete a Registered Apprenticeship Program stay on as an employee with the company where they completed their apprenticeship

The clock is ticking!  Do not let the opportunity to enhance the knowledge and technical skills of your current employees and “pipeline” students pass you by!  You can find details on the AHIMA Foundation website at: http://www.ahimafoundation.org/prodev/Registered_Apprenticeship.aspx or by calling the AHIMA Foundation at (312) 233-1131.  You can also email the AHIMA Foundation at apprenticeship@ahimafoundation.org.

About the Author

Krystal Phillips, RHIA, CHTS-IS is a HIM coder at OSU Veterinary Medical Center and an adjunct professor at Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio.  Krystal currently serves on the OHIMA 2018-19 Board as President and Delegate. 

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