Brattleboro Memorial Hospital saw a need and responded. The hospital was having trouble filling entry level medical positions. It was posting job openings for certified medical assistants and not getting any applicants.

Despite the lack of applicants, there seemed to be an interest from people who did not have the skill set to be a medical assistant, and who had difficulty obtaining the right education. Community College of Vermont offered a two-year medical assistant degree, but many people couldn't afford or dedicate the time to a two-year program. So BMH made it easier.

"There were these barriers to becoming a medical assistant," Elidh Pederson, the executive director of BMH, said. "So we took our need, paired with the fact that we knew there were good, smart people who wanted to fit our need, but couldn't, and we met with CCV."

Pederson said what BMH really needed was people who had skill sets applicable to outpatient medicine. The hospital also needed people who could apply inpatients skills like pharmacology to an outpatient setting.

Together BMH and CCV created an accelerated 14-week, five-class program for Certified Medical Assistants called College to Careers. A CMA is a medical assistant trained to do administrative, clinical and general tasks. The class is limited to 20 participants per semester. BMH provides full scholarships for eight program participants. The scholarship recipients also get supervised clinical training at BMH and are guaranteed jobs there as soon as they pass the program.

Through the program students learn anatomy, computer programing, clinical assistantship and pharmacology.

The program was started last year. After the first round of courses seven CCV students went on to work at BMH. Each CMA got experience in 11 of BMH's departments before being placed. BMH worked with the CMAs to try and accommodate them in departments they were interested in.

Alayna Spear and Angela Cummings were both scholarship recipients and now work for BMH. Interest, passion, experience, customer service skills and being reliable were among the factors considered for scholarship recipients.

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