November 13, 2023 3 min read

New apprenticeship program will train 1,500 health care workers in Missouri

A new program through the Missouri Chamber Foundation will help meet the growing demand for health care workers by training up to 1,500 apprentices across the state.

The Missouri Chamber Foundation has launched the Industry-Driven Healthcare Apprenticeship Program thanks to a $3 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant and $1.35 million federal appropriation.

“This program will help create good-paying jobs and bolster apprenticeship training systems across the state,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “We are excited to partner with some of Missouri’s leading health systems to expand access to quality health care for all Missourians.”

Health care systems participating in the program include BJC HealthCare, CoxHealth, Hannibal Regional Healthcare System, Jordan Valley Community Health Center, Mercy and University Health.

“We’ve seen a lot of challenges coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Todd Ahrens, president and CEO of Hannibal Regional Healthcare System. “Anything we can do to support bringing in bedside and clinical folks is a huge help to the health care system.”

Employers participating in the program will receive $2,000 for each apprentice they train in occupations such as:

  • Medical assistant
  • Surgical technician
  • Pharmacy technician
  • Phlebotomist
  • Certified nursing assistant
  • Medical coder
  • Biomedical equipment technician
  • Dental assistant
  • EMT
  • Radiology/CT technician

The goal is to train 1,500 apprentices by January 2026 and transition over 95% of those trained apprentices into permanent, full-time employees.

“Registered apprenticeships are great for not only the employer, but also the employee,” said Emily Harrington, administrative director of employee relations at CoxHealth. “As the employer, we’re able to develop our pipeline of workforce. As the employee, they’re able to gain on-the-job skills while getting paid. So, it’s a win-win.”

“Something we say around here a lot is that we meet folks where they are and then provide the care that they need,” said Vivian Elder, executive director for educational programs at Jordan Valley Community Health Center. “I think apprenticeships allow us to do the same thing with students.”

Another key objective of the program is cultivating a diverse workforce by engaging people from various backgrounds, including people of color, people who are unemployed, disabled individuals and veteran workers.

“We know in health care, we serve our broader community,” said Russell Hoffmann, vice president of culture and organizational development at BJC HealthCare. “We want to make sure we represent that broader community.”

“If someone has not had a family member or loved one work in health care, they may not know that health care is an option for a career or even how to start that journey,” said Jessica Atchison, executive director of professional practice at Mercy Hospital Springfield. “Apprenticeships give us the ability to really widen that workforce pool and see who is out there that might be interested.”

“We’ve seen a diverse group of individuals looking to apprenticeship opportunities, but the main thing we’ve seen in candidates is the desire to provide more for their family,” said Dr. Ruth Pullins, Chief Human Resources, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at University Health. “This eliminates a barrier that many had to start a training program, knowing that the hospital is investing in their education.”

The Industry-Driven Healthcare Apprenticeship Program is modeled after another successful program focused on IT jobs. Since its inception in 2020, the Missouri Chamber Foundation’s Industry-Driven IT Apprenticeship Grant program has served over 3,000 apprentices.

To learn more about the Industry-Driven Healthcare Apprenticeship Program, visit

Disclaimer: This product [is being] [was] supported, in whole or in part, by federal award numbers SLFRP 4542 awarded to the State of Missouri by the U.S. Department of Treasury.


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