A long, rewarding journey came to an end on Nov. 15 at a graduation event that honored the UnitedHealth Group Apprenticeship Program’s first two cohorts: the Denver cohort focused on medical assistants, which started June 6 and the Minneapolis cohort focused on pharmacy technicians, which started on July 18.
“I feel like I’m growing every day,” said graduate Chrisana Tripodi, reflecting on her experience in the Minneapolis cohort. “It’s bringing me back whole.”
The event was attended by approximately 80 people, including graduates and their families, program instructors and Institute for American Apprenticeships (IAA) representatives, as well as UnitedHealth Group Chief People Talent Officer Kristi Hummel and UnitedHealth Group Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Ethan Berke.
The program aims to improve equity by diversifying our workforce to reflect the communities we serve by recruiting more people of color, military members and veterans, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities and varying socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s led by the Enterprise Public Health team, in collaboration with the lines of business and UnitedHealth Group People team. As part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s registered apprenticeship model, the program focuses on creating opportunities for those who may have experienced barriers to job training, a college education or career development while also helping deliver a high-quality workforce.
“Through this program, we’re transforming our ability to add staff, address burnout and provide better care for patients,” Berke said. “What’s exciting is it doesn’t just help patients or our businesses, but it helps the people in the program, their family and the communities we serve.”
UnitedHealth Group partnered with the IAA to develop roles and curriculum approved by the USDOL for the 10-week classroom-focused boot camp education program. After the 10 weeks, on-the-job training continues.
Apprentices don’t need prior experience in their desired field and are selected and trained based on their behavioral traits, aptitude and motivation that are aligned to the needs of the company. Once selected, apprentices are hired as employees, with access to full employment benefits as they work to complete the program. At the end of the apprenticeship, they receive a U.S. Department of Labor Certificate of Completion, wages reflective of market parity and up to 45 hours of academic credit.
There are currently three active cohorts with another 15 planned for 2023. The program is actively training medical assistants for Optum Care, pharmacy technicians for Optum Rx and will start training community health workers for UnitedHealthcare Community and State in March 2023.