People who have experience working within the medical field will soon get an opportunity to advance their careers through a new nursing apprenticeship program.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission received a federal grant last year to increase the number of registered apprenticeship programs in Louisiana, according to a news release from the organization.

Offered through the Northshore Technical Community College in Slidell, the year-long apprenticeship program starts Jan. 29. The inaugural class consists of 20 people with medical backgrounds, including graduates of the Ochsner Medical Assistant program and military veterans with relevant experience.

Organizers said they expect the program — which includes both classroom and clinical components at various Ochsner facilities — to attract people with more varied backgrounds in the future.

Shannon Joseph, director of the Office of Workforce Development for the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said the program could be particularly beneficial for medical assistants who have had trouble moving into higher positions despite the fact their job responsibilities in some ways overlap with the nursing field.

“We expect this program to successfully address that issue,” Joseph said.

The apprenticeship structure allows participants to earn a living wage while furthering their education, she said. Graduates will earn an associate’s degree in practical nursing.

“It speaks to the desire of many healthcare professionals to advance their careers and provides an effective avenue to achieve that goal,” said commission Executive Director Ava Dejoie in a statement. “We look forward to witnessing the countless success stories that this program will undoubtedly generate.”