Need a job during the pandemic? Nonprofits offer rapid training to enter healthcare field


AUSTIN (KXAN) — At a time when medical workers are much needed and many are out of work due to the pandemic, rapid programs are being offered locally to help those seeking new jobs get into the medical field fast.

Some certification programs only take a few weeks.

Central Texas Allied Health Institute, a new, nonprofit healthcare college in south Austin, is offering several short-term programs that take a few weeks.

The school’s four-week certificate programs include the EKG Technician and Phlebotomy programs, and a Patient Care Technician certificate program can be completed in five weeks.

In September, CTAHI will expand to include certifications for long-term medical assistants, pharmacy technicians and sterile processing technicians.

“There are a lot of programs, a lot of different jobs in the medical field where you get paid a lot of good money whether you see patients directly or indirectly. The demographic that we’re targeting, they have no idea,” said Todd Hamilton, co-founder and campus president. “They think everyone that wears scrubs are doctors and nurses, and so this is where we get the opportunity to come in handy. We get to tell them, ‘No, you can do this, and you can make a good living off of it.'”

The college places priority on educating members of the community who are at or below the Federal Poverty level. Emphasis is also placed on diversifying the medical field in the Austin area. The college is strategically located in southeast Austin, where many residents are under-served minorities.

Classes are offered at low cost, and the school can help secure grants and tuition assistance for some students.

In north Austin, Skillpoint Alliance has been offering free certificate programs to people who are unemployed, underemployed or fall at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty level for 25 years.

Also a non-profit, Skillpoint Alliance offers a five-week Nurse Aide certification program.

“It definitely has a potential for upward mobility, so you could go on to be an LVN or become an RN,” said Skillpoint Alliance’s executive director Kevin Brackmeyer.

Any applicant for Skillpoint Alliance’s free program must meet income qualifications, have a high school diploma or GED and be a Texas resident. Applicants are interviewed, then notified if they are selected.

In addition to the Nurse Aide certification, Skillpoint Alliance also offers programs for electrical, plumbing, certified production technician and HVAC certifications.

Mentorships are offered during the course of Skillpoint Alliance’s program, and Brackmeyer says graduates have high employment rates once they finish.

“In many cases, they’re able to get benefits, insurance, retirement. So there’s a lot of potential out there for them to get a job that will get them on a positive trajectory,” Brackmeyer said.  

Both CTAHI and Skillpoint Alliance say local healthcare systems have reached out to them expressing need for certified medical workers during the pandemic.

“We’ve already been contacted by the facilities and asked, ‘Do you have anybody? Please, send us everybody that you have,'” said Dr. Jereka Thomas-Hockaday, co-founder and Dean of Specialty Programs at CTAHI. “St. David’s reached out to us and said, ‘Please, send us everybody you have. We need them now,’ so we’re really trying to put that out and let folks know, ‘Hey, you come here, you go through a four-week program, five-week program with us, you’ll have a job.'”

During the pandemic, both CTAHI and Skillpoint Alliance are offering hybrid learning with some online coursework along with in-person labs.

Austin Community College also offers several fast-track programs for certification in the medical field and other specialties that range from taking a few weeks to a year to complete.

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