The Vermont Department of Economic Development recently awarded Brattleboro Memorial Hospital (BMH) a $74,000 Workforce Development Grant.  Funded through the Vermont Training Program, the grant will enable BMH to hire, train, and employ medical assistants and scribes for the hospital’s medical practices.

Medical Assistants (MA’s) support clinicians by preparing patients for their exams, performing basic laboratory tests, and taking the patient’s medical history, among other clinical responsibilities.  “Our practices faced a lack of MA’s to support our clinicians’ work,” explained Eilidh Pederson, Executive Director of BMH Medical Group.  She continued, “This opportunity to hire and train additional clinical support will alleviate much of the administrative burden currently facing clinicians, allowing more time for hands-on patient care; not only increasing the number of patients seen each day, but also the satisfaction of both patient and clinician experience.”

The grant dovetails with the recent collaboration of BMH with Community College of Vermont (CCV), an education model that fast-tracks students interested in healthcare by providing an opportunity to become a MA working in an outpatient practice. The 14-week program enables students to complete an accelerated Medical Assistant program and begin a career within BMH’s Medical Group practices.

While the BMH/CCV partnership created the needed pipeline for BMH’s Medical Group, the grant will provide for the training of the enrolled MA’s.  As a majority of the students have not had previous medical training, they will require additional clinical instruction. Recent graduates will enroll in an extensive three month training program led by a registered nurse to enable them to work independently as a Medical Assistant. The training will include rotations throughout the various specialties of BMH’s twelve outpatient practices in order to learn how to operate specific equipment and navigate and document within electronic medical records.

The grant will also fund further training opportunities for both incoming and existing MA’s to become Medical Scribes, a position that follows the new shadowing model of care in which a provider allows the scribe to participate in patient appointments. The Medical Scribe’s role is to assist with documentation of care, ordering of tests and labs, and prescribing medications during the visit under the direction of the clinician.

Pederson noted, “This training will not only aid the retention and recruitment of clinicians, but also allow our practices to provide a higher quality of care for patients and ultimately lead to an increase in accessible care for Windham County.”

Adam Grinold, Executive Director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC), agreed with Pederson, “We continue to see workforce development as the number one challenge for Vermont’s economic future. The BDCC is encouraged to have such pioneering institutions like Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and Community College of Vermont working collaboratively to address the workforce needs of Windham County. Public-Private partnerships such as this program with the Vermont Training Program, CCV, and BMH are key to ensuring our regional students have access to high-wage, high-growth employment opportunities.”