Vanderbilt University Medical Center training truck drivers, cleaning staff to fill clinical roles

Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., is training employees to become medical assistants amid a shortage of those workers, according to NPR affiliate WPLN.  

The hospital provided the training opportunity to its 29,000 employees via a collaboration between Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Nashville State Community College.  

Under the program, participating workers will train for 12 weeks at Nashville State Community College and in the hospital, according to WPLN.   

Those in the program are employees of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. However, they don't all work in clinical roles.

For example, WPLN interviewed Clifford Johnson, who has worked for the hospital for seven years and was the lead driver for a team that transports surgical instruments to get sterilized. Cleaning workers are also among the workers who are training as medical assistants.

"The turnover has been tremendous," Peggy Valentine, EdD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center's vice president for allied health education, told the radio station. "So, the thinking was, why don't we work with our employees, build a sense of loyalty? And then we've got a workforce that's likely to stay with us in the long haul."

As of May 30, the hospital had more than 100 openings for medical assistants, which it aims to help fill through the training program.

Workers in the program are offered tuition reimbursement as well as their salaries during their full-time training.

The first cohort of Vanderbilt University Medical Center employee participants began training April 25 and will continue doing so through July 15, according to program information provided to Becker's. The employee must work at the hospital at least one year after completing the training.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is also training another cohort of employees in the fall and a cohort of high school students with medical assistant certification over the summer. 

Read the full WPLN report here.

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