OGDENSBURG – Following the completion of their first semester several members of the inaugural class of DSP Apprentices met with members of United Helpers Mosaic’s advisory board to discuss their experience thus far.
Ed Fisher, Patricia Amo, Jason Cameron, John Gammon, Deb Smith, Victoria Dewey and Patrick Flagg each attended the meeting speaking about the challenges they’ve faced as part of the program, but also about newfound confidence, increased work skills and a new desire to better themselves and move up the career ladder at United Helpers.
“When I started the class I didn’t have the self-esteem or confidence to talk in front of people,” Mr. Cameron said. “Now I’m looking into college programs to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services. I now have the confidence to know I can do this.”
The class includes a mix of relatively new Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and experienced DSPs, but regardless of how long they have been with the company prior to enrolling in the program, participants say they’re seeing the benefits.
Mr. Fisher, who has been a DSP for nearly 30 years said, “The way we’re looking at the people we’re taking care of now is from a totally different point of view and that’s because we’re utilizing what we’ve learned in this program.”
Mr. Gammon agreed. “Even after one semester of this program the level of care our residents is going to receive has been elevated.”
The program is a combination of classroom work and on-the-job training spread out over four semesters in years. At the conclusion of the program each apprentice will earn their Journeyman’s card.
Mosaic Vice President of Operations Michele Montroy said she can remember speaking with some of the apprentices right after the program began.
“I remember speaking to some of you after the first day of class,” she said. “You’re success hasn’t come without challenges, but I’m glad you have all stuck with it.”
In addition to crediting Mrs. Montroy, as well as their fellow classmates for supporting each other through the program, Program Instructor Alex Pacific also received praise from the apprentices.
“If it wasn’t for Alex, I don’t think we would all still be here,” Ms. Dewey said, to which Ms. Amo added, “He was very willing to work with us to get us where we needed to be.”
United Helpers Mosaic Staff Development Director Jason Matthie said the program is designed to be a challenge.
“This isn’t an easy program. These people have had to push through some fears and anxiety. A lot of them are going back to school for the first time in a long time,” he said. “We wanted this to be challenging, but not so difficult that someone who was putting forth an honest effort couldn’t succeed. Innovation doesn’t come from doing the same thing over and over again. It comes from overcoming whatever challenges are put in front of you.”
In addition to classroom work and on-site training, the apprentices must complete homework assignments and study for exams, all of which are graded. Each exam includes 100 multiple choice questions, as well as five essay questions.
“That first exam was rough, but we all got through it,” Mrs. Smith said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the future has to bring.”
Sometimes classroom days even include guest speakers.
“Alex has brought in people from other companies to offer their perspectives to us and I think we’ve all gotten a lot from the speakers,” Mr. Flagg said.
Mosaic Advisory Board member William Nelson said he was thoroughly impressed with what he heard during the presentation.
“The way you guys have presented this to us is very inspirational,” he said. “One of the things we are all very aware of is how health care is changing. By participating in this program you are all becoming the agents of that change.”