The third cohort of the Medical Assistant (MA) Training Program that was formerly run by the Camden Coalition will begin recruitment this September. The MA training program is now coordinated by the Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors (Board of Governors), which has contracted with Hopeworks ‘N Camden to provide trauma-informed preprofessional training to program participants.

We started the MA training program in 2015 to build the next generation of Camden’s health care workforce. While we are now passing the program on to our community partners, we will continue to work with Camden County College to provide participants with an enhanced Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) curriculum that includes core elements of our care philosophy.

“We definitely want to continue doing trauma-informed care, the COACH model, motivational interviewing, harm reduction,” said Laura Jakimowicz, Program and Policy Analyst at the Rutgers-Rowan Board of Governors. “It just really enhances students’ understanding of working in the health care space. So not just technical skills, but the core philosophies of engaging with patients. That’s something we really value, and the Coalition does an amazing job with that.”

Hopeworks ‘N Camden, which has gained wide acclaim in Camden for its trauma-informed approach, trains the city’s youth in marketable skills like web development and graphic design. It was a natural choice of partner for the Board of Governors.

“We recognize that a lot of our students come with difficult pasts, and [we wanted to] engage a community partner that understands youth in the city and their experience, and that… allows space for students to acknowledge and work through these harder issues that continue to pop up throughout their lives,” said Laura. “Hopeworks is an amazing model and has done incredible work with youth in the city for years.”

The Board of Governors is soliciting applications from students at six Camden high schools. Applicants will be enrolled in special math and science coursework during their senior year, and will participate in a preprofessional training program at Hopeworks. Based on their academic performance, attendance, and performance in the Hopeworks training program, the third cohort will be selected in February 2018. They will then complete an internship at a partnering health care clinic and a preparatory summer program at Hopeworks before beginning the accelerated CMA program at Camden County College in the fall.

The ultimate goal of the program is to create a talent pipeline that provides opportunities for Camden youth and benefits the city’s booming health care sector.

“Based on our experience working with Kris Kolluri [CEO of the Board of Governors], and with Laura, who headed the program at the Camden Coalition, I’m beyond confident that they’re the right ones to take over not only this program, but further capacity building in the city of Camden,” said Victoria Sale, Chief Learning Officer at the Camden Coalition. “I couldn’t be more thrilled with the students and what they’ve achieved, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Laura and Kris do with the program.”

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