Students graduate from new UW Health program

Students in Wisconsin’s first and only Medical Assistant Registered Apprenticeship program graduated Friday at University of Wisconsin Health in Madison.

The 11-month program has the students complete 400 hours of classroom work and 2,000 hours of clinical instruction. Bridgett Willey, UW Health’s director for allied health education and career pathways, said the program prepares students to become medical assistants, which she says is a field with staff shortages.

“It’s amazing,” Willey said. “It’s incredibly rewarding.”

All students in the class were paid for their training. Willey said all students were also offered jobs by the end of the training.

“That is rare, especially on the university level,” Willey said.

The program was approved by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards. Part of the program includes criteria that increases diversity among medical assistants, which means that all students must meet a level of diversity. This is in an effort to help the graduates be competent for cultural representation in their workplaces.

Graduate student Briane Roberts said the program helped her move toward her career goals.

“I think that it’s the best thing to do,” Roberts said. “It actually helped. We got to learn as (if we were) learning in the classroom. We got to go into the clinics, I also learned there.”

Willey said she believes the program will continue. The second class has already begun, and with an enrollment of 41 students, it has more than twice the enrollment as the first class. A high school degree is needed to apply, along with at least one year of experience at UW Health, UnityPoint Health – Meriter Hospital, or SSM Health.

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