RIC Outreach Programs Help Rhode Islanders Realize Professional Dreams

A few years ago, Nicole White, a Cranston mother and medical professional, was having trouble balancing her educational pursuits and her home life.

Working full time in a group home for individuals with developmental disabilities and taking care of her then 4-year-old daughter didn’t leave White much time for traditional schooling.

“I was pursuing nursing, but it just wasn’t working out,” White said. “Without a doubt, I wanted to stay in the medical field, so I researched other options.”

White decided on the Medical Assistant: TRAMA outreach program at Rhode Island College. She now works at University Family Medicine in East Greenwich, a job she secured during her TRAMA program internship.

“I was hired before I even finished the RIC program,” White said. “I love it and I would not have been able to do this without the RIC training.”

TRAMA is one of several programs offered at Rhode Island College, designed for unemployed, underemployed and dislocated workers to further their professional lives.

Programs also are offered in bookkeeping, insurance technology, community health worker and English plus computers.

The Outreach Programs at Rhode Island College recently held a graduation ceremony for the TRAMA and Bookkeeping: TRABAC programs.

“These are intensive, six-month programs. People do take time away from their families to participate, and this graduation, for many, is the first time in their lives they have been recognized for their accomplishments,” said Outreach Programs Director Jenifer Giroux.

This spring, 23 students graduated the TRAMA program, and seven students graduated the TRABAC program. Giroux said these classes have a remarkable 80 percent average job placement at graduation rate.

The majority of these students, Giroux said, took part in contextualized studies that incorporates ESL training as needed for each individual student. 

“The majority of the students were bilingual, and the need for bilingual employees in health care is really increasing,” Giroux said. “In the contextualized program, students are learning English skills simultaneously with the technical skills. This is not a one-size-fits all program, and we can tailor the program to a student’s specific needs.”

With a case manager to help students navigate obstacles, such as transportation or childcare issues, they may face in completing the program, the RIC Outreach Programs offer a holistic approach that facilitates educational success.

Requiring program students to complete an internship and develop job readiness skills benefits both students and Rhode Island employers, Giroux said.

“It helps employers find employees, and it helps prospective employees meet employers’ needs,” Giroux said. “It minimizes the risk in hiring a job candidate. More and more programs like ours are doing this, but we have been doing this since we started these training programs, TRAMA since 1997 and TRABAC since 2003."

Students complete 24 weeks of programming and commit 30 hours per week to their studies. White said she found the schedule accommodated her home life.

White said, “I absolutely love my job now, where I get to be very hands-on with patients. I’m sticking with this for a while.”

For more information on the Outreach Programs at RIC, where classes begin and run continuously, visit www.ricoutreach.org.