Singing River Hospital Launches Health Care Registered Apprenticeship Program

A new Registered Apprenticeship (RA) program at Singing River Hospital offers exciting opportunities for people interested in starting a career in health care. 

Deano Harrison, a workforce development specialist at Singing River Hospital, says the program will strengthen the health care workforce on the coast and will increase the health care talent pipeline across the state. 

The “learn-while-you-earn” program, launched in partnership with the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program (MAP), is designed to support individuals interested in a healthcare career but may not be able to afford college. Apprentices can choose between becoming certified Phlebotomists or Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and are given hours of one-on-one training by a certified instructor. After achieving the required clinical hours, apprentices can apply for their certification exam. 

Niticia Poole, a registered nurse and instructor for both the CNA and Phlebotomy courses, says this program comes at the right time considering the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are in a very high need for any type of healthcare professionals from doctors to phlebotomists,” Poole says. 

In Mississippi, with rising rates of COVID-19 and increased numbers of medical professionals moving out of rural areas in the state, the need for healthcare professionals has only intensified. 

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. 

However, programs like Singing River’s RA program help Mississippi grow and retain its medical professionals, strengthening communities and stimulating local economies. 

“In rural areas, it is difficult to recruit because it is difficult to get medical professionals to stay,” Deano says. “That is why we have established different programs, to get  [individuals] into the Singing River family, and to help them progress their careers and stay on the coast.” 

Deano credits the MAP with helping to support and promote the hospital’s RA program. He says the program will provide a pathway for more Mississippians to earn college credit.

“The Mississippi Apprenticeship Program gave us the opportunity to go further and to reach people statewide,” Deano says. “Their support will also allow us to collect detailed demographics to bring a more diverse workforce into healthcare.”