In 2018, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky identified soft skills as the biggest skills gap in the U.S. Further research has shown that gaps in soft skills exist across all roles and nearly all functions. Healthcare careers are almost always in demand with far more jobs than qualified candidates in many markets.Opportunities for medical coders and trained staff within the medical practice setting are among the most stable in job markets throughout the U.S. with salaries that can grow with each year of hands-on experience.
One such initiative was recently taken on by two Texas-based training partners, Practice Management Institute (PMI) and Workforce-Ready Concepts (WRK). Dubbed as the Aspire Power Program, this career pathway initiative focused on developing skilled healthcare workers for medical practices in an area of south Texas known as the Lower Rio Grande Valley. These organizations pooled their resources to provide opportunities that seemed to be out of reach for some job seekers.
The Aspire Power Program identifies existing gaps in workforce training and provides industry-recognized, curated online vocational training for job seekers. Mentors work with participants to help increase success. Paid internships are secured with participating employers, creating a path for employment upon completion of the program. The cornerstone principles of the program are digital inclusion, employability, self-sufficiency, confidence, life-long learning, and a medical career pathway.
The program brings it all together with its Career Pathway Healthcare Initiative. This anchor program, known as the WRK Mobile Learning Platform, works with the Workforce Solutions Lower Rio staff to identify qualified learners, while WRK furnishes them with a computer, internet connectivity, essential workplace skills, and enrollment in PMI courses. WRK provides updates to case managers, program administrators, and others as needed during their training and when completed PMI identifies local employers to screen and interview candidates for externships and possible employment. WRK and Workforce Solutions Lower Rio continue to provide ongoing mentoring and job coaching to assist in employment retention.
This year, Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance PHO, Physicians Health Plus connected with the Aspire program to bring educated staff into the much-needed vacant front-desk positions of its affiliated medical practices. The physician-hospital organization has more than 150 participating providers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
“The synergy has been so uplifting for everyone involved,” said Michael Moore, VP of Practice Management Institute. “This is just the beginning of a transformative quest that will bring marketable skills to individuals seeking a career in the healthcare field, an industry that is always in demand.”
Lorrayne and Lorissa Gonzalez are sisters who several months ago were trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. Both are now successful Aspire Program graduates happily employed in medical practices in the Valley.
“I am a single mom with two kids who have seen me struggle,” said Lorrayne who recently completed her Aspire internship. “The opportunity to use your favorite skills of communicating, being able to help people, being the messenger, and now hired as a Physical Therapy/Workers Comp Receptionist is the best career path at Weslaco Family Care Center!”
Lorrayne said the long hours and late nights studying were well worth it.
“The Aspire program has inspired me to always follow my dreams and chase my goals. Thank you so much to everyone at Physician’s Health Plus, PMI, and Workforce Ready Koncepts, as well as the team at WFCC for the great opportunity. You all have helped me so much to make life better, and I’m doing better for my kids so that they can have a better future!”
Her sister Lorissa, another Aspire Program graduate, is now employed in a front desk position with Elsa Medical Clinic.
“The Aspire program caused me to open my eyes and reach for an opportunity to start a new career in the medical field. It got my foot through the door! I loved everyone and everything about it- everybody was so helpful! I am looking forward to the future and what this opportunity will bring.”
Linda D’Spain, PMI Aspire program content creator and faculty lead, feels the program sets the perfect foundation for someone wishing to get started in an exciting and rewarding healthcare career.
“I am passionate about mentoring the next generation of healthcare professionals – helping people, directly and indirectly, one life at a time. I am honored that I have been selected to develop the curriculum and mentor the candidates that are participating in The Aspire Program. This program is the solution to what job seekers and employers need now!“
Ada Gonzalez, CMOM, CMCO, DHR Vice President of Revenue Cycle and administrator of Physicians HealthPlus, knew from the beginning that this program would be of enormous benefit to the PHO practices.
“Front desk personnel are so important to the overall success of the medical practice on so many levels, and the opportunity to be able to place thoroughly trained staff with the Aspire program from day one is a true blessing,” she said.
Ada also thanked Esmer Ochoa, PHO Director, and Marth Mendoza, PHO Educational Coordinator, for their combined efforts in seeing the program become reality.
“I have a great team. Also, this program is an homage to former PHO Director Paulette Saca, who was passionate that such a program would come to be to benefit the group. Paulette lost her battle to cancer several years ago, but we are so happy that her vision has been realized.”
Workforce Solutions Lower Rio is actively recruiting a new round of Aspire program candidates.
Practice Management Institute (PMI) partners with leading health care organizations, hospitals, medical societies, and colleges to teach medical outpatient coding, billing, management, and compliance guidelines. A trusted resource since 1983, PMI training and certification courses help medical office teams stay productive, compliant, and secure proper reimbursement for services rendered.
Workforce Ready Koncepts (WRK) has over 40 years of combined experience in using technical solutions and workforce preparation activities to employ the economically disadvantaged to become self-sufficient and obtain the necessary digital literacy skills the current marketplace demands.