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18 Graduates Awarded CMA Certificates

CMA class St. Croix

A little over a year ago, the economy of St. Croix was dealt another blow when news of the dismissal of over 80 employees from the Governor Juan Luis (JFL) Hospital spread across the community. The disappointing news followed on the heels of the Hovensa shut down which had already devastated the fragile economy.

Today, in the quiet town of Frederiksted, 18 of the displaced Juan Luis Hospital employees stood at the UVICELL Center with family members proudly looking on as they accepted their certificates. The graduates are the first to successfully complete the first ever Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA) program.

The CMA program is a collaborative effort between the UVICELL Center, the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and the VI Department of Labor. It was created to address the needs of the affected workers and sought to provide additional skills that would enhance their chances for employment. Funding for a majority of the students participating in the program was underwritten by the V.I. Department of Labor.

"Our community was already plagued with high unemployment rates following the closure of the Hovensa refinery," said Arah C. Lockhart, Assistant Commissioner of the VI Department of Labor. "We are feverishly working with our training providers and workforce development partners to provide training and support services to get these dislocated members of our community back into the workforce, and this is just one of the ways we’re trying to accomplish that goal,” continued Lockhart.

The CMA program prepares students to assist physicians by performing functions related to the clinical aspects of a medical office. The graduates were instructed in areas such as preparing patients for examination and treatment, routine laboratory procedures, pharmacology, taking and documenting vital signs, technical aspects of phlebotomy, 12-lead EKG and the cardiac life cycle.

The structure of the program was another first for the UVICELL Center as it represented the first time they offered a course in a blended-learning environment. Students learned the theoretical aspects of the course entirely online with the assistance of an online instructor. This was combined with regular group sessions, a hands-on lab with an in-class instructor which covered the clinical component and prepared the students for the national certification exam. Another critical element of the program was an on-the-job externship which was designed to provide practical experience and prepare them for employment. Many of the students were able to complete their externships at the JFL Hospital and some have even been offered positions to return to work at the hospital.

The eighteen graduates of the program are: Alda Smith, Chantal Harrigan, Charlene Jones, Constance Jefferson, Denise Joseph, Denise Willie, Gloria Garvey, Harriet Chastanet, Janice Hughes, Joan Thompson-Melville, Jovelle Smithen, Joycelyn Phillip, Kaila Estien, Marcia Abraham, Matilda Christopher, Maudeline Kelly, Myrthlyn Francis, and Yolanda Edwin. Fifteen of the eighteen graduates have already taken and passed the national certification exams to become Certified Clinical Medical Assistants (CCMA).

For more information on the CMA program, call the UVICELL Center at (340) 693-1100.