One of the cornerstones of program design for the Registered Health Information Technology (HIT) Apprenticeship Program has been to promote diversity and inclusion in both the program at East Los Angeles College (ELAC) and within the profession at-large. Active and continuous recruitment was vital to make this a reality. We attended multiple career and educational fairs, with the support of faculty and staff, throughout Los Angeles County. The places are sponsored both by educational and community-based organizations in multicultural and diverse communities of need. These included LA County Rehabilitation and LA County Corrections, Black College Expo, Latino College Expo, Veteran Events, Job Corps, First Place for Youths, and various high school pathways, from inner cities to suburban areas. We also scheduled several information sessions each month at both the main campus and satellite campus open to students and the public. Events advertised on campus websites/social media and with campus-wide signage. For many, this was the first time hearing about health information technology as a profession, while others may have had a family or friend as a source of interest.
A common theme emerged with interest from individuals of various ages, ethnicities, and recruitment sites. Everyone was seeking a new career that would support their families and lifestyles. Many apprentices were single women with children. Some were individuals who lost their jobs and needed retraining, and others were veterans seeking new paths and opportunities. Others may have already been in the profession and sought pathways for advancement and promotion. They were happy to learn about a career in which age was not a barrier to success but rather an indication of commitment and determination. The opportunity to interview and become a part of the ELAC Registered HIT Apprenticeship Program was offered to individuals in age groups from Baby Boomers to Generation Z.
Before learning about the program, some apprentices were not aware that there was a way to work in healthcare that did not include direct patient care. Many apprentices desired to work as a healthcare professional that offered future advancements and financial security. The ELAC Registered HIT Apprenticeship Program provided resources from the beginning, such as tutoring, engagement opportunities in community support events, and resume/employment assignments. The ELAC Registered Health Information Technology program would provide the training, education, and entrance to professional employment. There are several funding initiatives have supported the Registered HIT Apprenticeship program. These initiatives include financial aid, the California Apprenticeship Initiative (CAI) New Innovative Grant Program, California Strong Workforce Program, California Lottery Funding, California Perking’s Funding, and especially the grant Expanding Community College Apprenticeship (ECCA) Initiative.
With the emerging trends in health education increasing and moving towards the apprentice training environments, learning becomes an active process of discovery and participation based on self-motivation. The HIT educational program has placed apprentices in multiple positions that are not only secure but provides them with an opportunity to contribute and give back in an indirect patient environment. Having a chance to re-educate oneself, be of service to others in a mature way, and gain financial security in a career as an apprentice has offered many ELAC graduates personal and economic stability for the first time.
Apprentices understand that their training is ongoing and many have continued their educational journey to be strong HIM professionals.