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Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Announces Partnership with University of Memphis

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH) recently announced a partnership with the University of Memphis (UofM) to help their employees earn certifications or college degrees in an affordable and flexible manner.

The partnership will also help fill the number of high-demand health care positions within the region.

“We could not be more delighted with the partnership with the University of Memphis to help our associates realize their dreams and to help us attract and retain the very best,” said Carol Ross-Spang, chief human resources officer at MLH.

Dr. Richard L. Irwin, executive dean of UofM global and academic innovation, said the established programs will positively impact the community.

“More people will be appropriately trained, more people will be educated and it puts them individually and then collectively as a community in a much better standing,” he added. “We know that a better educated population leads to better economic standing to all parties involved.”

The new initiatives established under the partnership are part of MLH’s Associated Advancement Program (MAAP), which provides employees with career pathways and career advancement programs to help them reach their goals as well as meet the workforce need.

“We were starting to have internal conversations about how we could take our current career development programs and processes and make them even more robust,” said Ross-Spang.

MLH, which refers to its employees as associates, created both a certified nursing assistant and surgical technologist program alongside UofM. Both certifications are currently being developed and will launch in March.

“We see those as beautiful stair step programs for some of our entry-level associates who are advancing their careers, which again is what this is all about,” said Ross-Spang. “Helping our associates find their path, remove their barriers that get in their way whether that be access, time, cost or their own mindset that they don’t know what’s possible or think they can achieve it to meet these goals.”

The employees can complete the nursing certification within eight weeks while the surgical technology program takes 52 weeks to finish. Each course will be capped at 20 students. Since the announcement of the programs, around 150 students have shown interest in enrolling, according to Ross-Spang.

Additionally, the certification programs are more cost effective as fees are covered completely by MLH.

“The content is more relevant, they are largely online, so it eliminates the barriers of access, paying fully for certifications and there won’t be the cost barrier,” said Ross-Spang.

In addition to these certification programs, the UofM Global program was launched, which offers online bachelor’s degrees in fields such as health services, health sciences, healthcare leadership or organizational leadership. MLH covers up to $4,000 per year of tuition.

Carol Ross SpangCarol Ross Spang

“For some of our associates that didn’t think a bachelor’s degree was possible for them for whatever reason, this offers another opportunity,” said Ross-Spang.

However, for those associates who do not meet grade or ACT and SAT score requirements, UofM developed a preparation academy.

Successful completion of the academy guarantees them admittance into the institution as well as starts them out with an additional 12 hours of college credit.

Currently the various bachelor’s programs will be launched in January and around 200 associates have already expressed their interest.

“What we will see is a lot of enrollment growth over time as more people not only hear about it but gain confidence that this is something that they want to do, that fits into their schedule,” said Irwin. “It ends up being that herd effect, few people start and then others follow.”

Additionally, the programs offer constant support and tutoring to help the associates succeed. There will also be an employee-only site which shows associates the skills and training required for higher-level positions.

“We all believe that we all have the responsibility to create our own future,” said Ross-Spang. “But what we feel strongly as an organization that really focuses in our associates and making our work environment the best it can be so that they in turn can deliver exceptional care for our patients and families. We want to play the role of providing them that map, that direction, that guide and the support and tools to go with it to help them on this journey that they are on and to fulfill their career.”

Sarah Wood can be reached at [email protected].

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