Registered Apprenticeship Programs in Health Care

Program Contact: Dr. Eric Dunker

Arapahoe Community College

General Description

Centura Health and ACC co‐created the largest registered apprenticeship in health in Colorado in July 2018 and scaled in 2019 to serve up to 30 apprentices per cohort. This innovative program has yielded outstanding success and paved the way for more allied health  apprenticeship program growth in Colorado.

Program Summary

Centura Health is collaborating with Arapahoe Community College, one of 13 colleges in the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), and the state workforce system with the goal to create registered apprenticeship pathways for students to enter entry‐level occupations and have the opportunity to continue their education into mid‐skilled or advanced‐skilled roles through work based learning programs without the need to leave full time employment.

  • Centura Health is the largest healthcare provider in the state of Colorado, employs 21,000 people, and operates seventeen hospitals and over two hundred clinics in Colorado and Western Kansas.
  • Centura Health and ACC co‐created a robust Medical Assistant (MA) registered apprenticeship program that launched in July 2018 and ran two pilot cohorts with ten to twelve apprentices per cohort in 2018‐2019 and scaled to 26 apprentices in the fall of 2019 with a plan to run 30 per cohort in the future (and has expanded to 2 other system colleges).
  • ACC has also expanded this to the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and will run an additional 2 pilot cohorts.  
  • ACC and Centura Health transformed a traditional eighteen‐month, classroom-based MA program into a one year, on‐site registered apprenticeship utilizing a hybrid model of credit and noncredit online, classroom, and clinical instruction. 

Unlike stand‐alone education programs, the competencies for the related instruction in this apprenticeship program match the learning taking place on the job. Apprentices work up to thirty‐two paid hours per week and transition into full‐time MA roles after six months upon passing a national MA certification exam. Preceptors are also trained to mentor their apprentices and assess the on the job learning. Over 85% of all apprentices in the program are still gainfully employed with Centura, which has dramatically improved Centura’s retention rate from their traditional hires.

​Challenges and Lessons Learned

  • Transforming a 100%, classroom based program into a flexible and shortened credit bearing program using similar competencies and a complete parallel delivery system
  • Writing grants and securing financing for the costs of redeveloping a program, hiring a full‐time program manager, and scaling this within the CCCS system with traditional service area boundaries
  • Results of this successful pilot helped the state receive a $9 million DOL grant to further this work in the health space.
  • Very time intensive on the back end on both organizations, but has resulted in a successful ROI for Centura Health.

Local Workforce Centers are partnering with Centura Health and ACC on recruitment and funding. This partnership is a direct result of education, government, and industry working together to build robust competency frameworks and co‐creating accelerated apprenticeship pathways that leverage multiple instructional modalities that will ensure a more sustained talent pipeline for the industry. Due to the success of this apprenticeship, pathways in medical lab technology, sterile processing, patient care tech, and pharmacy tech are currently being built. ACC and Centura were recognized by the Colorado Workforce Development Council for an Excellence in Apprenticeship award in 2018 and will be recognized with 3 apprenticeship excellence awards in November 2019.