The Foundational Skills program is part of Duke's Professional Development Academy and focuses on developing clerical office support skills and capabilities of Duke staff to help them qualify for a variety of career opportunities within Duke.

For more information, please see a list of frequently asked questions for applicants and managers.

Application Period

Manager nominations will be accepted through Friday, April 7, 2023.

The following documents are required for complete application:

  • Application
  • Current Resume
  • Guided Essay and Inventory
  • Copies of Performance Evaluations for last two years (2021 & 2022)
  • Research and circle the following job titles of interest: Administrative Assistant, Patient Service Associate, Appointment Coordinator, Clerk Ill, IV, V; Administrative Secretary; Accounting Clerk; Staff Assistant; Staff Specialist; Data Entry Clerk
  • Recommendations (1 each)
    • Current Manager/Supervisor
    • Peer or Former Manager/Supervisor

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Professional Development Academy

The Professional Development Academy is dedicated to providing tailored training programs to foster career growth for targeted staff groups and to support Duke's staffing needs. The goals of the Academy include improving retention and strengthening workforce commitment, developing the skills and capabilities of staff, and supporting Duke's commitment to diversity.

Target Audience

Duke staff currently working in levels 2-5, or B1 and B2, in service area positions within either Duke University or Duke University Health System.


To provide fundamental knowledge and skills that prepare individuals to make application for entry-level administrative roles within Duke.

Program Features

  • Skills training and work experience opportunities will take place at Duke
  • Participants will be paid for onsite training
  • Departments will actively support training and mentoring of participants
  • Participants will have peer mentors and Professional Development Academy resources that will provide support throughout the program
  • Participants will commit to a retention agreement of 24 months of post-graduation employment at Duke


During the 36-week program, participants will take general office administration courses with the goal of preparing participants to be eligible for entry-level administrative support opportunities. Topic areas include:


  • Articulate roles and responsibilities
  • Understand medical office function
  • Formatting medical reports
  • Knowledge of various types and purposes of medical insurance
  • Interpreting information on patients’ insurance cards
  • Demonstrating an awareness of HIPPA Compliance, Confidentiality Laws, PHI


  • Office equipment operation & troubleshooting
  • Computer basics, software & keyboarding
  • Business writing & correspondence
  • Soft skills & leadership
  • Career & work readiness
  • Work experience
  • Developmental meetings with peer mentors and PDA staff

Selection Criteria

  • Full-time Duke service staff
    • Minimum of three years of continuous service
    • Two prior, consecutive years of successful performance.
    • No disciplinary actions and currently not on a Performance Improvement Plan
  • Currently working in service areas in job levels 2-5 or B1 or B2
  • High School Diploma or GED
  • Return complete, typed application packet by 5p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2023 (Resume, Work Interest and Values Guided Essay, 2-3 Job Descriptions of interest, recommendation from a current peer or a former supervisor, performance data for 2021 and 2022)
  • Recommendation of current manager
  • Successful completion of structured interview
  • Selection by the Foundational Skills Program Selection Committee
  • Commitment to remain at Duke for 24 months after program completion.
  • Commitment to 12 hours week of rigorous professional development training for 36 weeks
  • Basic keyboarding skills
  • Preference will be given to candidates that meet the criteria outlined above and those willing to actively seek a transfer or lateral move within Duke

Time Investment

Selected individuals will participate in classroom training, work experience, structured coaching and mentoring sessions.

Phase I (12 weeks; May 2023 - August 2023) Tactical, hands-on skills development and practice with instructor-led classroom training for basic skill development.

  • 12 hours of coursework per week

Phase II (12 weeks; September 2023 - November 2023) Track specific development


  • 8 hours of Health track coursework per week
  • 5 hours of job shadowing per week


  • 8 hours of University track coursework per week
  • 5 hours of job shadowing per week

Phase III (12 weeks; December 2023 - March 2024) Formal on-the-job training

  • One 4-hour session per month
  • One 90-minute technology session per week
  • 8 hours of on-the-job training per week

During the 36 week period, participants will be released from their regular work schedule to cover training time. Some training time may be outside of a participant's normal work schedule. 

Peer Mentor/Mentee Partnership Component

  • Each participant will be assigned a peer mentor
  • Peer mentors will be selected based on their role in the organization, ability to meet with participants at least once per month, and willingness to participate in required training and check-in sessions
  • Peer mentors will:
    • Provide guidance on setting and achieving developmental goals
    • Share insight into building and maintaining effective office relationships
    • Insight into work culture and workplace expectations
    • Reinforce classroom training through applied practice

On-the-Job Training

On-the-Job Training (OJT) will provide participants an opportunity to apply knowledge and skills obtained through coursework in a supervised work environment, for 8 hours per week. During the OJT, participants will:

  • Apply skills and knowledge from coursework to an actual job
  • Develop key job skills
  • Improve job prospects
  • Secure potential references
  • Gain exposure to a department of interest
  • Provide a valuable service
  • Be involved in specific project work or work within current job or new placement

For more information, please contact the Professional Development Academy by email at