Human Resources Apprenticeship Program Prepares for Opening of Northeast Ambulatory Care Center


The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Human Resources Department Apprenticeship Program has been helping SRPMIC members train and become certified in a variety of career fields, including plumbing, carpentry, information technology help desk, hotel hospitality and more. The program has already begun training Community members in medical and dental assisting to help prepare staffing for the new Northeast Ambulatory Care Center (NACC). Starting this month, the program is accepting applications for medical billing and coding.

Apprenticeship Program Manager James Smith spoke about finding positions for these new applicants at the NACC, which broke ground in January and is expected to open in February 2022. 

“What we’re doing is looking at how we want it [the training] structured,” said Smith. He said they want to time it just right so that individuals go through the Apprenticeship Program and they’re completing the program about when the clinic is scheduled to open. 

“One of the things we’re looking at right now is [enrolling individuals in] medical billing and coding,” Smith said. “We talked about maybe doing another dental [apprenticeship] the second part of this year.”

How the Apprenticeship Program chooses which trades to offer in a particular year is based on Community needs. Entering any of the 11 trades offered by the Apprenticeship Program will require about four to 10 months in the classroom, depending on the trade, followed by 2,000 to 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. 

Applicants must be 18 or older, and SRPMIC members receive preference. Applicants must provide tribal ID or CIB, high school diploma or GED, original signed social security card, and a physical form from their doctor giving permission to undertake the training.

“We always want to give everybody an opportunity, but it depends on that person, if it’s the right time in their life to take this on,” said Smith, “because it’s a huge commitment.”

Apprentices will receive a certificate of completion after they finish class. After completing their on-the-job hours, they will receive a Journeyman license from the State of Arizona, a nationally recognized certification.

The program has an 85% completion rate. Smith explained that the program is doing what it can to make sure individuals are successful. 

“I think one of the things that has helped us with getting that strong success rate is that when we offer a trade that is outside of the Community, we try to take away any barriers we can to make sure individuals can get to class,” said Smith. For example, “We provide transportation. I think that’s a huge selling point that has helped us tremendously in our success rate. We want to see them succeed. So, we can eliminate that [barrier], and then also they don’t have to spend their money on gas.

“But we understand that life happens. Everybody has different situations that come up, [and it’s inevitable that] we’re going to lose people, it’s kind of the nature of the program. But we just continue moving forward with the ones that we have and continue helping them be successful,” said Smith. Because space is limited in the Apprenticeship Program, Smith urges applicants to keep trying, even if they don’t get in the first time. 

The Medical Billing and Coding program applications are available at the Community Employment Office, located at Two Waters Building B, first floor. The deadline to submit applications is Friday, February 28, at 5 p.m.

For further information please call the program at (480) 362-7950.

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