Grant supports hiring, training of medical assistants and medical scribes

BRATTLEBORO — The Vermont Department of Economic Development recently awarded Brattleboro Memorial Hospital a $74,000 Workforce Development Grant to hire, train, and employ medical assistants and scribes for the hospital's medical practices.

The grant is funded through the Vermont Training Program, an initiative from the state Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

Medical assistants support clinicians by preparing patients for their exams, performing basic laboratory tests, and taking the patient's medical history, among other clinical responsibilities.

“Our practices faced a lack of MAs to support our clinicians' work,” said Eilidh Pederson, executive director of BMH Medical Group, in a news release.

Pederson said the measure “will alleviate much of the administrative burden currently facing clinicians, allowing more time for hands-on patient care.”

The grant dovetails with the recent collaboration of BMH with Community College of Vermont in a 14-week program that enables students to complete an accelerated medical assistant program and begin a career within BMH's medical group practices.

While the BMH/CCV partnership created the needed pipeline for the BMH Medical Group, the grant will provide for the training of the enrolled MAs. As a majority of the students have not had previous medical training, they will require additional clinical instruction.

Recent graduates will enroll in an extensive three-month training program led by a registered nurse to enable them to work independently in the role.

The training will include rotations throughout the various specialties of BMH's 12 outpatient practices in order to learn how to operate specific equipment and navigate and document within electronic medical records.

The grant will also fund further training opportunities for both incoming and existing MAs to become medical scribes.

A medical scribe assists with documentation of care, ordering of tests and labs, and prescribing medications during a patient visit under the direction of the clinician.

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