This month’s Rowan-Rutgers Board of Governors meeting at the Waterfront Technology Center in Camden was a little bit unusual — along with the usual attendance of staff from Rowan and Rutgers Universities, and representatives of the board members’ offices, the front row was filled with nine crisply-dressed Camden high school seniors and their guidance counselors.

The students were there to be welcomed into the second cohort of the Camden Coalition’s Medical Assistant Training Program, which will give them the opportunity to get paid internship experience at major area hospitals, tuition-free training at a special accelerated Medical Assistant (MA) program at Camden Community College, and guaranteed job placement upon completion of their licensing exam.

The program is coordinated by the Camden Coalition and funded by the Rowan-Rutgers Board of Governors, the New Jersey Education Association, and Camden County Youth One Stop Resource Center in Camden. The Board of Governors congratulated the students on their admission into the program and reminded them to work hard and take advantage of this opportunity.

Kalyk Russ-Still, one of last year’s inaugural cohort, told the board and his peers in the younger cohort that the program was a challenging one. “I thought they would go easy because we were just in high school,” he said. “They didn’t.” Russ-Still pushed through though, and upon completion of his MA certification exam he will be working as a Medical Assistant in the Lourdes Health System’s Osborn Family Health Center.

Keonna McNair, a current Camden High School senior and member of this year’s MA training program cohort, told the board that even though the group had just started the program March 1, they already had each other’s backs. Going forward, she said, she was confident that they would be able to rely on that bond to get through the program’s challenges.

After the meeting, the students gathered in the hall to take selfies with Camden’s Mayor Dana Redd, who has a seat on the Board of Governors.

Four MA students take a selfie with Mayor Redd

The nine students of the 2016 MA training program cohort will be trained and mentored until June, and then in September will have their orientation for the six month accelerated MA program at Camden Community College.

The last month of the program is an externship at one of the program’s three partner sites: Cooper Hospital, Lourdes Health System, and Virtua Health System. Then students are responsible for scheduling and taking their certification exam, after which they will be placed at one of the partner sites by the Coalition in partnership with the Rutgers-Rowan Board of Governors.

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