How an orthopedic group, ASC solved staff recruitment, retention challenges

Laura Dyrda - Print  |

Olympia (Wash.) Orthopaedic Associates has taken a unique approach to solving the challenges of hiring qualified medical assistants and retaining staff: tuition reimbursement for continuing education.

A report from local social network Thurston Talk detailed how the practice created a professional development program for qualified staff members to become medical assistants. Former medical scribe Alisha Schaefer and her colleague Michelle Ziegler were the first two staffers to benefit from the program, which paid $23,000 for each of them to take a 10-month medical assistant certification course. They will complete their certification in mid- to late-June.

Olympia Orthopaedic CEO Ben Shah said there is a national shortage of medical assistants, and his group has struggled to fill the role.

"With all the costs of recruiting, why not find good, dedicated employees who want to further their careers and give them an opportunity? We opened it up to our staff and had people apply," he said.

Olympia Orthopaedic Associates plans to expand to possibly help licensed practical nurses become registered nurses or scrub technicians. The practice's owners gave the group a budget this year to fund continuing education for 10-times more employees next year. Employees that go through the program sign a commitment to stay with the practice for a set number of years after completing their certifications.

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