The Role of Apprenticeships in Meeting Employers’ Demand for Allied Health Occupations


Objective: Nationwide, apprenticeship is being used as a tool to address difficult-to-fill health care jobs, reduce turnover, and emphasize on-the-job learning, including for MAs. This study identifies key components of registered MA apprenticeship programs in the U.S. It describes implementation approaches and motivations for, as well as barriers and facilitators to, MA apprenticeships.
Data/Setting: Data came from a literature review and semi-structured phone interviews in 2018 and early 2019 with key personnel involved with registered MA apprenticeship programs in 11 states.
Design/Methods: Stakeholder interviews explored program origins, delegated responsibilities, and resources and challenges with starting and maintaining MA apprenticeship programs.
Results: Interviewees identified 23 active MA apprenticeship programs across a variety of health care settings. Programs demonstrated considerable flexibility, such as using both sequential and concurrent models for job-related didactic instruction and on-the-job learning components, as well as both time-based and competency-based approaches to measure apprenticeship progress. Most programs focused on training and upskilling incumbent workers, while some recruited apprentices from outside the organization. Program sponsors and employers needed adequate resources and personnel to administer and manage an apprenticeship program. Employers often faced difficulties filling mentor positions within their organization to train and support apprentices during on-the-job learning. Communication among apprenticeship partners was important and programs were most successful when employers were committed to the apprenticeship approach and viewed it as a long-term, organizational investment.
Conclusions: The majority of interviewees stated that employers used apprenticeship to upskill and train incumbent workers for the MA position, creating a pathway into new roles. Apprenticeship is not an immediate panacea, however, to solving gaps in MA workforce recruitment and training. This study found that MA apprenticeship programs supplement—rather than supplant—traditional MA education programs offered through public and private community and technical colleges. Apprenticeship requires financial investment from employers over a period of time before benefits are realized.
This study resulted in a full report and a 2-page policy brief that can be found in the publications section of our website.
Lead Researcher: Susan M. Skillman, MS
Contact Info:



HRSA: HWRC Allied Health






Authors Title Type Date Documents/Media
Jopson AD, Skillman SM, Frogner BK Use of Apprenticeship to Meet Demand for Medical Assistants in the U.S. PUBLICATION 09-27-2019
Policy Brief
Full Report
Skillman SM Assessing the best uses of apprenticeships in health care PRESENTATION 10-22-2019
Jopson AD Filling gaps for medical assistants: The apprenticeship approach PRESENTATION 07-17-2019
Jopson AD Filling Gaps for Medical Assistants: The Apprenticeship Approach PRESENTATION 05-03-2019
Skillman SM, Stubbs BA Recent research related to health workforce education in Washington PRESENTATION 03-07-2019