Memorial Hospital Launches Innovative Registered Apprenticeship Program on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Memorial Hospital’s Registered Apprenticeship (RA) program, features certification courses for two registered occupations: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). This RA program offers exciting opportunities for people interested in starting a career in health care, while also growing Mississippi’s health care workforce and supporting local communities. 

Marianne Mejia, a registered nurse and coordinator for Memorial Hospital’s CNA and LPN courses, says that these programs will help strengthen the healthcare workforce on the coast, while also offering a way for recent high-school graduates, or individuals looking for a career change, a wonderful way to get started in the healthcare profession.

“Most people underestimate what it takes to work in healthcare. Our apprenticeship programs will help people realize the amount of dedication required in this practice, and will help them decide if the healthcare profession is right for them.”

The RA program—developed in partnership with the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program (MAP), Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCC), and connected with a national healthcare intermediary by the Mississippi Office of Apprenticeship—offers financial support for individuals who are interested in working in healthcare, but may not be able to afford college.

Apprentices are given tuition-assistance, as well as financial aid for course fees and textbooks. Apprentices are also paid for their clinical hours, and can apply for open positions at Memorial Hospital upon completing the program. 

By the end of their coursework, apprentices can expect to have earned several hundred hours of hands-on experience, guided by a certified instructor. This first-hand experience is critical when apprentices begin practicing. 

“Apprentices are able to take knowledge learned in the classroom and apply it to real-life scenarios, which can prove to be essential in our practice,” Marianne says. 

In addition to preparing apprentices for their roles as physicians, Memorial Hospital’s programs provide a support system that encourages apprentices to stay on the coast, helping Mississippi retain its physicians. And studies have shown that in Mississippi, physician retention has been difficult. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) found in their 2020 resident’s report, that 

43% of physicians that complete their residency training in Mississippi, move to other states to practice. This statistic has increased steadily over the past three years.

Low physician retention can contribute to higher demand on Mississippi’s health services, which are already under stress. According to the Bureau of Health Workforce Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Mississippi qualifies as a “Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).” The state has less than 46% percent of its primary health care needs met due to a shortage of healthcare professionals. 

That’s why programs like Memorial Hospital’s RA program are essential in helping Mississippi grow and retain its healthcare workforce, which in turn strengthens communities and stimulates local economies. 

“Memorial Hospital is such a wonderful place to work,” Marianne says, “We are a community-based hospital, and value keeping our healthcare staff close, so that they can continue to give back to their communities.”

Both the CNA and LPN courses have been approved by The United States Department of Labor (DOL), and will be open to applications this fall.

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