UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center
UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center is a 72-bed community hospital in Rio Rancho, N.M.
Credit: John Arnold

Rio Rancho, N.M. – Health care is changing, and with it there is a growing call for new kinds of health care workers. To meet that demand, UNM is creating three new certificate-training programs for community health workers, medical assistants and behavioral health workers.

Health care employment is expected to grow by 18 percent over the next decade, with most of that growth coming in new types of medical support staff, according to an October 2017 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.   

“We believe this coming great explosion in the health care workforce will be with these types of positions and skills,” Arthur Kaufman, MD, UNM’s vice chancellor for community health said. 

The new certificate programs are set to launch in Spring 2018 at the UNM West campus in Rio Rancho, Kaufman said.

The programs will offer students multiple options, ranging from two- and four-year associate degrees to quicker certificate courses that will also provide continuing medical education credits to professionals who want to sharpen their skills, he said.

UNM already has a history of “training the trainers” with its Health Extension Rural Offices (HEROs) program, which has educated hundreds of community health workers throughout the state, Kaufman said. 

The UNM West campus, adjacent to the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center (SRMC), will allow residents of Rio Rancho, Sandoval County and Northwest Albuquerque easier access to classes.

The programs’ long-term impact cannot be underestimated, Kaufman said. “We know students who train locally in these types of jobs are much more likely to stay and practice in their communities,” he said.

SRMC will assume operational maintenance of the UNM West facility, while offering valuable onsite educational opportunities for students, said SRMC CEO Jamie Silva-Steele, MBA, RN.

“It is going to be an exciting year as we transition and begin attracting students to train at SRMC,” Silva-Steele said.

The campus will also see a makeover as roadways are connected and walking paths are built between SRMC and the nearby education building.

“As they graduate, we know these students will help to ensure we have a good pipeline of well-trained health care workers that can meet the needs of the diverse backgrounds of all our patients,” Silva-Steele said.