Women & Infants Hospital Launches Medical Coding Apprenticeship Program

Collaboration and team work have resulted in the successful launch of Care New England’s first Medical Coding Apprenticeship program at Women & Infants Hospital, and the first Medical Coding Apprenticeship in the state of RI. Care New England’s management team and the labor union, SEIU 1199NE, have worked together to develop every aspect of the apprenticeship program including: measurable competencies, related training and predictable wage increases. They have formed an apprenticeship committee to review program changes, evaluate candidates and have even funded a contracted position that will help expand this exciting work system-wide.

With six new apprentices on board, the results have been immediate. Donna Sprague, Preceptor for the Medical Coding Apprentices says that she attributes the apprenticeship program’s structured on-the-job-learning and mentorship as the reason for the initial cohorts successful adoption of the program. “The Apprentices all know what to expect in order to succeed. They take classes as a cohort, help each other earn passing grades resulting in certification.” The results are more than anecdotal, Renee Vuz, Manager, HIM reports that the department saw a lower bill hold last quarter. “These results allow more movement and cross-functional work between Coders.”

“The goals for this program are large, but very achievable” says Jen Couri, Director of HIM, Coding and Revenue Integrity. “We have already seen an increase in our Coders cross-functional capacity. When Medical Coders can code both outpatient and inpatient records, the hospital experiences increased productivity and billable hours. With a grow your own talent model, we expect to save our department substantial overhead costs.”

In September 2015, Care New England, in partnership with Apprenticeship/RI was the recipient a Department of Labor’s American Apprenticeship Initiative grant to expand apprenticeship as a model to industries outside of the trades, including the healthcare sector. To date, Care New England has registered four apprenticeship programs including: Coding, Nursing and Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor. With multiple occupations in the pipeline, apprenticeship is a model that provides on the job learning, along with classroom instruction, to upskill current employees and provide career pathways system-wide.

Apprenticeship RI and the Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP) have worked closely with all partners to provide support from: program design and registration to curriculum implementation, competency evaluation to mentor/supervising coaching.


The Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP) is a national labor/management organization that promotes innovation and quality in healthcare career education. Its board includes Service Employees International Union (SEIU) locals and healthcare employers across all sectors of healthcare.  H-CAP has experts, tools, and resources to support healthcare employers interested in starting a Registered Apprenticeship program. To learn more about H-CAP, visit: https://www.hcapinc.org/

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Providence Police Academy becomes an Apprenticeship Program

The Providence Police Department has the first apprenticeship program of its kind in Rhode Island.  Because the Providence Police Academy has all the essential elements of apprenticeship – employment from day one, on-the-job learning, related instruction, and wage progression, the Providence Police were able to register as an Apprenticeship program and tap into the workforce development supports open to Registered Apprenticeships.

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Mancini Speaks of Building Futures & Apprenticeship RI

This week in the Providence Journal, Building Futures Board Chair Gregory Mancini published an Op Ed celebrating Building Futures’ 10-year success as a pre-apprenticeship program in the building trades, Mancini outlines Building Futures history and how they secured the resources to establish Apprenticeship Rhode Island – a partnership with Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training to build the capacity of the apprenticeship system and help employers launch apprenticeships outside of the construction trades. 

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Do you really need a Bachelor’s degree to do that?

The rise in jobs that require higher education is real.  But do all those jobs you post with “Bachelor’s degree required” really use that college education and hold the interest of a college graduate?   For starters, Carnevale et al. at the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce found 44% of “college job openings” in Rhode Island are below the Bachelor’s level.  Second, the apprenticeship model helps employers separate and unpack what employees need to get started from what education level they need to grow their career with the firm. 

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The New Face of Apprenticeship

With so few qualified biomedical equipment technicians and healthcare IT specialists on the job market, Claflin Medical Equipment and Claflin Company are taking charge by launching custom-designed apprenticeship programs.  Claflin Medical Equipment, a support and services provider of medical equipment, and Claflin Company, a medical supplies distributor, hired 5 apprentices in programs that will prepare them to be Biomedical Equipment Technicians and Data Scientists.  Both Apprenticeships are three-years in length and combine full-time employment with coursework at CCRI leading to a college degree as well as national certifications.

Claflin’s Data Scientists are cross trained in managing the intersection of IT and healthcare business operations.  They install hardware and network equipment as well as supporting software applications.   Biomedical equipment technicians maintain and repair a wide range of medical equipment in hospital and clinical settings.  “Apprenticeship is a game changer for tech-talent acquisition, with it we can close the skills gap”, said Eric Robinson, Director of Operations for Claflin Medical Equipment. “It allows us to broaden our recruitment strategy beyond those applicants that happen to arrive at our door fully qualified, credentialed, and experienced in the field; instead, we can grow our own talent base, groomed exactly as we need them to be through the right combination of education and on-the-job experience.”

“Real Jobs grants are designed to flexibly meet the needs of Rhode Island employers.” said Director Scott Jensen of the RI Department of Labor and Training. “Since Registered Apprenticeship is the ultimate employer-driven workforce training strategy, it made perfect sense to support this effort with Real Jobs funding.”

Year Up provides the perfect recruitment pipeline, providing the career readiness and coursework necessary to be hired into Claflin’s apprenticeship programs.  “We are incredibly pleased with the performance of Year Up graduates as our first Data Scientist Apprentices” says Michael Oliver, Chief Information Officer.

And what about the apprentices themselves?   Kevin Sun, of Warwick says: “Through my apprenticeship at Claflin, I can see a future for myself.”  Fernando Ruiz, of Providence echoes those feelings: “My apprenticeship at Claflin feels like a career, not just a job.”

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