Rural Healthcare Providers Use Apprenticeship to Address Staffing Needs

Addressing the shortage of qualified medical and dental assistants is a challenge many healthcare organizations face, but in rural areas, the lack of nearby institutions with qualified training programs compounds the issue. To address the need and meet growing demand, Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers (WACMHC) brought together 27 federally-qualified health centers located across the state of Washington. Under WACMHC’s multi-employer apprenticeship model, rural and smaller employers can enroll one or two employees in the apprenticeships program as a part of a larger cohort.

“The Medical and Dentist Apprenticeships are filling a need for our health centers to train people of the same community and cultural background to become credentialed healthcare providers. Our clinics experience a high turnover of medical and dental assistants, and with on-the-job training available to frontline staff, we are beginning to see turnover decrease. We are thrilled by the success and rapid growth of the program, and are eagerly awaiting the development of apprenticeships in new professions.”

– Bob Marsalli, CEO

Apprenticeship Turns High Turnover Into High Retention

The program is a boon to both apprentices and businesses. Employees who completed the apprenticeship programs saw an increase in wages while employers saw an increase in retention. The average hourly wage increase for graduates of the medical assistant apprenticeship from the start of the program to 12 months after completion was $2.76, or a 21 percent average increase. In the first year, the medical assistant program had a 100 percent retention rate with a 95 percent retention rate after two years.

Investing in apprenticeship helped WACMHC meet community needs for care while improving the job quality of the employees who live in the region. Apprenticeship can help many employers prepare a highly-skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of employers across diverse industries.

Learn more about WACMHC and our other CareerSTAT Champions:


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Quick Facts Reference:

CareerSTAT’s Frontline Healthcare Worker Champion program recognizes healthcare organizations investing in the careers and skills of their frontline workers. Organizations are designated as Champions and Emerging Champions. Champions meet all of CareerSTAT’s recognition criteria, including making skill and career development accessible, offering programs at a significant scale, measuring program business impact, and building sustainable programs. Emerging Champions are in earlier stages of investment and working with CareerSTAT leaderships to strengthen their programs. Learn more at

This blog is a part of a series highlighting the 2018 CareerSTAT Frontline Worker Champions. See our other blogs featuring Champion organizations: Staten Island Performing Provider SystemLorettoEast Alabama Medical CenterDartmouth-HitchcockDistrict 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund, and Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System.