Argentum is the lead for a $6 million project funded by a four-year U.S. Dept. of Labor-ETA Closing the Skills Gap grant called the Healthcare Apprenticeship Expansion Program (HAEP). The collaborative is addressing the skills gap in healthcare and healthcare IT occupations by expanding apprenticeships for positions like CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and rehab technicians, as well as creating new apprenticeship programs for healthcare leadership positions.
Argentum believes in the apprenticeship approach, among many other workforce initiatives, as a time-tested tool for training and developing skilled labor. A resurgence and growing popularity of the model could be a major boost going forward to help fill the scores of open positions in the senior living sector to meet growing demand for long-term care services.
Apprenticeships define career paths, layout on-the-job training and classroom (including online) learning for advancement, and detail promotions and wage increases for apprentices.
As part of the program, five winners have been announced as Argentum All-Star Apprentices of the Year. Snapshots of the winners are as follows.
Separately, these winners and others in the HAEP initiative can now receive emergency aid after HAEP recently announced a new partnership with Work Well to help apprentices persist in their programs, overcome barriers, and reach their professional aspirations. As a result, HAEP apprentices and their approved dependents may be eligible to receive financial support and case management services from Work Well at no charge.
Award winners in alphabetical order are:
Dennis has been with her community for 17 years and throughout her tenure has evolved from caregiver to med-tech to now Resident Care Coordinator. Charter Senior Living said Dennis trains every single clinical employee that is onboarded.
“Stephanie’s guidance is extraordinary, and each clinical member gets wonderful training and knowledge through their training,” her employer said.
The apprenticeship was a step back into life-long learning for Hill, said his employer, as he did not have any healthcare or formal clinical education, but felt a calling to get enrolled.
Virginia Health Services said Hill has a commitment to human-centered care not only for the residents he cares for within the facility, but for the community that he resides. “He is actively listening to the voices of the elderly, children, and those in need and striving to make a difference,” they said. “His work is done with compassion and his top priority is ensuring the residents under his care and all of the residents and team members in the facility are living their best life.”
Hill is extraordinary because in part he does a back-to-school event to assist children and their families with ensuring that they will have the necessary school supplies to start the school year.
Tharpe has spent 19 years building a rapport in senior care in the Paris community. She got certified as a CNA at just 16-years-old and, since then, has spent that time focused on building a career. “Amanda strives to become a medication technician and/or a nurse in the next five years. She is always willing to be coached in the field and enjoys learning everything she can about senior care, her employer said.
As long as Tharpe has been with Charter, she has believed whole heartedly that a problem cannot be fixed unless it is discussed and that being accountable is not a scary thing. It is the honorable thing, they added.
For her part, Tharpe said when she got her first job at 16, she never imagined that “it would set my entire life path. I fell in love with the way each resident warmed my heart. It became more than just a job; it gave me an overwhelming feeling of joy each day.”
Wright started with The Hickman in 2019 as a caregiver. Shortly thereafter, she was identified as a stand-out team member, using sound judgment with a good skill set and was selected to train for her Medication Administration Certification.
During the pandemic in 2020, Wright took the online TNA to CNA program and received certification, despite her community not being a skilled nursing facility. “Through her time here, Tina has accumulated over 100 hours of extra course work, which is a testament to her desire to evolve as a caregiver,” her employer said. “Tina is currently enrolled in the Montessori Inspired Lifestyle Program that is being implemented in our Memory Care neighborhood. This program challenges assumptions about what is possible for people with dementia.”
Further, they said Wright displays a steady, kind, and optimistic demeanor regardless of assignment, staffing levels, and obstacles. She can be trusted to follow through on tasks, especially those promised to residents, her employer said.
Nominated for her commitment to human-centered care, Zakieva’s employer cites her ability to listen to residents as a key attribute, as well as following through with delivering to their needs daily in a professional manner.
“Valentina has continued to grow outside of the apprenticeship. She has recently completed her RMA certificate and is applying to go to nursing school, as she wants to go onto become an RN,” Virginia Health Services said.
On the question of why she is extraordinary, her employer states that “Valentina is extraordinary because she migrated from Russia three years ago to the United States where she faced language barriers and wanted to find a career that she made a daily impact.”
Further, Zakieva came into the apprenticeship program with an eagerness and willingness to learn and committed 100% to the program and the residents.
“She greets each day with heart and compassion. Her level of care and who she is as a team member earned her the Employee of the Year award at York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center,” they said. “She is extraordinary because she has built a life for herself and her family in the United true.”