Congratulations to Lelah Christensen and Shanitra Reed, who graduated from the first cohort of Sterile Processing Registered Apprentices in West Michigan during a ceremony on June 28, 2018. Christensen and Reed were two of the five apprentices who completed and graduated from the new program created in partnership with four area hospitals, including Mercy Health, as well as Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) and West Michigan Works!.
During their apprenticeships that lasted from January-June 2018, Christensen and Reed completed both on-the-job training within the Sterile Processing department at Mercy Health as well as related classroom instruction, led by GRCC. Not only was tuition for the program covered for the colleagues, but as registered apprentices, they were also paid for their on-the-job training, with both of them being hired as sterile processing technicians at Mercy Health in mid-June 2018, after they completed the program.
“I’m changing my life for the better,” said Reed, who worked for two years within the Nutrition Services department at Mercy Health. “I loved working in Nutrition Services, and I felt like I had learned everything I could within that department.” Reed heard about the Sterile Processing Technician Apprenticeship Program from her mentor, Yolanda Ross, HR generalist.
Like Reed, Christensen was a Mercy Health colleague looking for an opportunity to learn and grow within the organization. She has worked for the past six years as a “floater” for the Clinical Resource Center, filling in wherever she was needed as a patient care assistant (PCA). “I love my job, but there is nowhere to advance as a PCA,” said Christensen, who is also a new mom. “I wanted to stay within the organization, and this will be a good stepping stone for me as I continue to pursue my dream of going to nursing school.”
While this is an exciting opportunity, both newly graduated technicians at Mercy Health have a drive to keep advancing within the organization. The proposed next step for both of them may be to the role of scrub technician, working in the operating room at Mercy Health.
“I love learning,” said Reed of her dreams of continued advancement within Mercy Health.
Christensen echoed Reed’s sentiment. “This is not a final step for me.” Her dream to pursue a nursing degree may have her eventually working as nurse in Surgery.
Congratulations to both Reed and Christensen!
The Sterile Processing Technician Registered Apprenticeship is the second apprenticeship program Mercy Health has designed and implemented in collaboration with West Michigan Works!, community colleges, and other employers. The first was the Medical Assistant Registered Apprenticeship, launched in January 2016 and currently in its third cohort. Most recently, Mercy Health partnered with the AHIMA Foundation to adopt a Clinical Documentation Specialist Registered Apprenticeship, which launched with one apprentice in May 2018.
For more information on careers at Mercy Health, please visit https://www.mercyhealth.com/careers/.