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Congratulations to our Calumet Center’s Certified Medical Administrative Assistant Program graduates!

As the fourth cohort of our Calumet Center’s Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) Training Program graduates, 20 newly trained medical assistants are ready to join Chicago’s healthcare field at a critical time.

The CMAA Training Program provides a holistic approach to prepare our participants for the workplace while providing the administrative training needed to work in healthcare settings including hospitals, clinics, specialty medical offices, dental offices, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers.

We’re pleased to share 100% of our graduates have now passed the state licensing exam! Participants are now working with the program’s job developers to find employment in the field.

Our Spring 2020 cohort overcame an additional barrier of completing the majority of the program online, despite it being designed for a classroom setting.

“The digital divide makes it a bit difficult,” Program Manager Jackie Morris shares, but her staff has worked to accommodate the group’s evolving needs as they navigated their new reality together. All participants who didn’t have a laptop were able to borrow one. The instructors scanned the entire study manual to share electronically. They sought input from their participants to make sure the lessons were still engaging, and to encourage discussion. “It’s harder to ask questions,” Jackie says, “it’s just more intimidating to do over video.”

The curriculum itself is challenging and fast-paced. Regardless of the setting, the instructors look at participants’ weekly test scores to help gauge progress, and check in often to offer support. Now the tests are online, and the class discussion and mock interviews happen over video chat, but the support stays consistent. “We just give them as much encouragement as possible,” says Jackie.

The program partners with St. Augustine College Physician Practice Resources Inc. to modify the curriculum into a more module-based format, focused on adapting the teaching style for our participants’ learning styles, and to help them understand they can get through this curriculum.

This includes infusing adult basic education into the curriculum, to set their participants up for success. “No matter what you present to them, they’re hungry for it,” she says. “They want to learn how to consume the information, adapt it into the industry and into their life.”

Now, Jackie and the program’s instructors are seeing how participants’ learning styles have changed, and even how their children’s learning styles have changed. Some thought, “I could never go back to school,” and some wanted to add to their existing education. Several participants have found the CMAA Training Program from other Metropolitan programs. One mother-daughter pair took the training together. All are now empowered to pursue a career in the healthcare field.

Initially there was a bit of concern over entering the healthcare field during such a challenging time, Jackie shares, but many said, “This is what we signed up for; this is what we want to do.”