TrueCare and MiraCosta Offer Medical Assistant Scholarships

05/21/2024
The Prebys Foundation has awarded a $500,000 two-year grant to TrueCare, a nonprofit healthcare provider in San Diego and Riverside counties, for an initiative to provide internships and support for students in the MiraCosta College Medical Assistant program. The new grant, which establishes an impactful partnership between MiraCosta and TrueCare, will provide paid internships and scholarships to encourage students to seek training for a career as a medical assistant. The grant funding stems from the Youth Health Career Pathways Investments initiative. This initiative empowers underserved youth by providing access to top-tier healthcare career training programs. By diversifying the healthcare workforce, we take strategic strides toward mitigating health disparities and enhancing healthcare accessibility for marginalized communities.

Rich Dicker, program director for the Medical Assistant program, said the grant will enable students who otherwise might not have been able to afford it to enroll. To be eligible, a student must be 16-26 years old, enrolled in the Medical Assistant program, and have faced issues with financial hardship.

“This partnership exemplifies the impact of collaboration on our diverse communities. By creating a pipeline of new employees for TrueCare, we are ensuring our diverse communities can access health care when needed,” Dicker said. “Our students benefit because it offers them a meaningful career pathway that can transform their lives while positively impacting the community at large.”

The program’s first cohort, with six students, began this spring. Dicker said he expects 12 to 20 students to participate in the fall semester.

"We are thrilled to partner with MiraCosta College to provide opportunities for students to gain valuable work experience and pursue a career in health care," said TrueCare’s Chief Human Resources Officer Andrea Lewiston. "This grant not only supports the next generation of medical assistants but also helps build a diverse and skilled workforce that can better serve our communities. We believe that by investing in our students, we are investing in the future of health care."

One of those students is Catherine Havird, who has a paid internship at the TrueCare offices in Encinitas. She said she has gained a wide range of experience in clinical skills and has learned how to communicate with patients effectively.

“It’s been a good experience to see how we're actually going to use all these things we learned in school in the workforce,” she said. “It’s been very exciting to finally have the chance to use all of these skills and see these people who are doing what I want to do.”

Havird, who also works as a caregiver on the weekends, said the paid internship has been helpful as she deals with paying her rent and bills.

“It’s been a big weight off my chest,” she said.

The Medical Assistant program can lead to a two-semester certificate or a Medical Professional associate degree. Medical assistants work as medical office clinical and administrative professionals. An administrative job could include working at a reception desk or helping patients file insurance claims. A clinical job can include performing blood draws, giving injections, or taking patient assessments.

A minimum of 192 hours of training is required to qualify for a Medical Assistant certificate. Through the grant, students can work a paid internship at TrueCare to obtain training. Scholarships through the grant can pay for expenses such as books, medical scrubs, and other education necessities.

Dicker said a job as a medical assistant could be a stepping stone to another healthcare position, such as a nurse or a physician’s assistant. Labor statistics show the field is growing, with a 13% job growth for medical assistants over the next 10 years.

“It is more of a career choice than just a job,” he said. “The pay and benefits are good.”

About TrueCare:
For over 50 years, TrueCare has remained steadfast in its commitment to patients, their families, and its communities. As a nonprofit community health center, TrueCare is dedicated to delivering a superior and compassionate healthcare experience to nearly 65,000 patients every year, reducing barriers and increasing accessibility to quality care. TrueCare serves its communities in San Diego and Riverside Counties through its 22 health centers and WIC offices, providing primary care, pediatric, women's health, behavioral health, dental, chiropractic, acupuncture, podiatry, and cardiology services to everyone, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. In addition, TrueCare offers many other programs such as mobile services, transportation to clinic appointments, insurance enrollment assistance, weekly food distributions, and nutrition guidance. www.truecare.org.

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