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Bay Area Medical Academy Students Gain Rare Real-World Experience Testing for COVID-19

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- A recent community-led effort to test San Francisco residents for COVID-19, including the unhoused populations in Bayview and Sunnydale/Visitacion Valley gave Bay Area Medical Academy (BAMA) phlebotomy students first-hand experience administering COVID-19 testing to underserved populations.

A critical part of students' phlebotomy training is externships, usually in a lab or a doctor's office, but in recent months these opportunities halted as hospitals and labs closed down access to students and postponed all elective and preventive procedures. However, through a broad community partnership called United in Health D10, which included UCSF, San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), Bay Area Phlebotomy and Laboratory Services (Bay Area PLS), and other community partners, BAMA students were able to complete externships and gain real-world experience in performing COVID-19 testing and drawing blood for COVID-19 antibody testing, while administering to underserved populations of African-American, Pacific Islander, Chinese, and LatinX residents in San Francisco.

Anne Williams, 57, a resident of San Francisco, just completed the BAMA phlebotomy training and was one of several students who participated in testing by performing venous punctures for blood collection for the COVID-19 antibody test in challenging outdoor settings-a school yard in Bayview, a baseball field in Visitacion Valley/Sunnydale, and a closed Bayview street working with the homeless and partially sheltered. According to Williams, the weather ranged from rain to incredibly strong winds that threatened to overturn the tents, to 95 degree heat while completely covered in layers of PPE. One patient jokingly referred to it as "fresh air phlebotomy." In spite of conditions, Williams felt it was a valuable experience.

"I felt like I was doing service in my community and a political action, rather than just a stepping stone toward getting my license," said Williams. "The heartfelt thank you's and gratitude we received made the work more than worth it. I ended up feeling like I got more back than I gave."

Typically, BAMA Phlebotomy students take 60 hours of class training and then 2-4 weeks of an externship in a clinical setting. Class training focuses on skills such as collecting blood using needles, documenting and identification of samples, hygiene and infection control protocols, and safe handling and transport of samples-much of which pertain also to COVID-19 and antibody testing. The students' work was overseen by doctors, nurses, and other specialists as part of United in Health D10, and students performed approximately 100 tests each.

The community testing initiative has proven valuable to BAMA which was in danger of being unable to find enough externships for students during the lockdown. Now, three of the participating students have been offered jobs, as a direct result of participating in the externships, with Bay Area PLS, according to CEO Salu Ribeiro.

After talking to a range of participants, Ribeiro believes there were added benefits to these unusual externships, including the fact that "students gained experience serving a diverse community and had exposure to technical challenges that develop their resilience required to become strong medical professionals."

BAMA founder and CEO Simonida Cvejic agrees. "Bay Area Medical Academy is about meaningful community impact, through empowering and training students for successful entry in the healthcare field but also through contributing to the healthcare of our community and this COVID19 testing project has provided us exactly that," Cvejic said. "In alliance with Bay Area PLS, our students got a chance to experience working in the front lines of the COVID19 testing, research and prevention."

Ribeiro expects the opportunity and others like it to continue. "We want to express our gratitude for being able to provide this service to the residents in San Francisco," Ribeiro said. "These students will be doing serial antibody testing with other projects - and we will be recruiting more BAMA students in the future."

About Bay Area Medical Academy

Bay Area Medical Academy (BAMA) provides healthcare career training created in partnership with employers. We prepare individuals from different socio-economic, cultural and educational backgrounds for careers working in the healthcare industry. BAMA's goal is to serve its students and the medical community through quality academic instruction and job-oriented, skills-training. We maintain a student-centered philosophy and use both traditional and innovative means to train our students. Bay Area Medical Academy is committed to the success of its students, believing that education is the best way to transform people's lives.

Bay Area Medical Academy ranks in the top 10% of B-Corps (benefits corporations) based on our rigorous standards of social performance, accountability, and transparency. We partner with social agencies to help people who face social barriers attend school. We also collaborate with STEP into a Job!(tm) to provide scholarships to high school seniors.

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Business, Education and Schools, Free News Articles

Unique Apprenticeship Provides Fast and Effective Pathway for Kaiser Permanente Employees to Upgrade Their Job Skills

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Bay Area Medical Academy, SEIU UHW-West, and the SEIU-UHW & Joint Employer Education Fund (the Education Fund) have announced today that they have partnered to offer Medical Assistant Apprenticeship training to Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara employees. The apprenticeship is designed to meet California's healthcare workforce challenges through innovation and education opportunities that underscore quality, equity, and inclusion.

The ground-breaking apprenticeship began on September 23rd, 2019 and runs until January, 3rd 2020 at the Bay Area Medical Academy San Jose campus, with a clinical externship taking place between January 6th, 2020 and February 10th, 2020 at a Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara facility. The first cohort includes Apprentices who currently work in non-medical roles at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara and other locations.

"This program is an example of workers getting things done. It's wonderful to see that these Kaiser Permanente employees, SEIU UHW-West members, are getting the opportunity to advance their career, attending a high-quality certification program, free of charge," said Simonida Cvejic, CEO and Founder of Bay Area Medical Academy. "Success in life is largely determined by the quality of education, but that doesn't necessarily mean a four-year or a two year degree. Today's economy allows people with technical skills and problem solving abilities opportunities to advance their lives and careers. The Fundamentals of Medical Assisting Program is just that: technical training and hands-on practice focused on the demands of the job."

"The Medical Assistant career is one that creates a pathway into a robust career ladder with so many options. A career ladder that you can retire from. The program was developed to ensure that Apprentices will retain their current pay and job security while they are in school full-time. Apprentices will have a team from SEIU UHW-West, TPMG, KFH, Human Resources and the Education Fund to support them in being successful every step of the way," said Terrie Ridgeway-Olmos, SEIU-UHW West

"Apprenticeship programs are one of the best ways to promote equity and diversity within workforce development and we are so proud to partner with SEIU-UHW and Kaiser Permanente to launch this inaugural MA program," said Rebecca Hanson, Executive Director of the Education Fund.

Bay Area Medical Academy is providing a five-module curriculum that follows all California Medical Board requirements and concludes with an opportunity for Apprentices to obtain certification as a National Certified Medical Assistant. Apprentices are also receiving on-going assistance to ensure their successful completion of the apprenticeship, including twice-weekly individual tutoring services and exam preparation and coordination. The Education Fund has also provided program development, management and support, including career counseling for all the participants.

About Bay Area Medical Academy:

Bay Area Medical Academy is an accredited and approved healthcare certification training school with campuses in San Jose and San Francisco. Simonida Cvejic founded Bay Area Medical Academy in 2004, and the school has continually sought to provide occupational skills training that not only aims to help students obtain livable-wage jobs in the costly San Francisco Bay Area, but also provide a starting point for students to develop long-lasting and upwardly-mobile careers in the healthcare industry. Bay Area Medical Academy is a certified B-Corporation, receiving a "Best for the World" rating two years in a row.

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Video caption: Medical Assistant training at Bay Area Medical Academy

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