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$3M grant expanded to target local health care worker shortage

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A $3 million grant administered by the Missouri Job Center is reaching further into the medical workforce with the addition of four health care program studies.

The America’s Promise grant, locally known as Ozarks Promise, aims to locally train a total of 372 individuals in health care fields through December 2020. Full tuition and fees are covered by the grant, which now includes programs for certified medical assistant, certified pharmacy technician, phlebotomy and basic emergency medical technician.

The Missouri Job Center’s Lexi Mason, who serves as outreach specialist for the grant, said the first students for the new programs are slated to begin studies in January. Enrollment continues for the programs, with class sizes topping out at 16. The programs were added within the past month, said Katherine Trombetta, Missouri Job Center spokeswoman.

“With these short-term programs, we’re hoping to get more participating and graduating,” Mason said, noting the CPT, phlebotomy and EMT courses are one semester long and the CMA class lasts nine months.

The grant pays for training fees and tuition for the certified nurse assistant program and the associate degree in nursing program through Ozarks Technical Community College.

Mason said the new programs were approved for occupations in high demand, locally and nationally. The $3 million in funding through the Missouri Job Center is part of a larger $111 million America’s Promise grant distributed nationally in 2016 to 23 workforce organizations, she added.

The Job Center from June 2017 through this month had 165 students participate in CNA, ASN and behavioral health programs through the grant, Mason said. However, she said expanding the roster of programs that can be completed in a shorter amount of time should result in more student participation over the next two years. The grant funding ends at the conclusion of 2020. There are 207 more spots to fill.

“We’ll apply to other grants that have similar goals, but this was a one-time grant under the Obama administration,” she said.

According to Mason, if students were to pay out of pocket at OTC, tuition and fees for the programs would top out at $15,400 for ASN students, including testing, to as low as $1,792 for EMTs.

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