Clark State Community College will add evening and summer courses to the accredited Medical Assisting program. The program, launched in 2010, has grown significantly, and the healthcare career field is ripe with opportunities for certified medical assistants.
“Clark State’s dedication to bridging the skills gap in the workforce is evident in our successful Medical Assisting program,” said Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin. “We strive to provide the diverse field of healthcare in our community with highly-skilled and professional certified medical assistants and continue to do so with the addition of evening and summer courses.”
Janet Taylor, program coordinator for the Clark State Medical Assisting program said this is the first time Clark State will offer core medical assisting classes in the evening. “This will accommodate those already working in the field who need to get credentialed or want to change majors to medical assisting,” she said. The classes will be offered beginning in the winter semester of 2016. Taylor also said some of the courses within the program are online, but most core classes include hands-on learning in a laboratory.
Additional courses in the Medical Assisting program will also be offered during the summer semester beginning in 2016. Taylor said the goal is to allow full-time students in the program to earn their Medical Assisting certificate within a year and get them into the workforce faster. “We encourage the associate degree, but students can sit for the national exam with the certificate,” said Taylor. “That is where they get their credentials and that is what the community is looking for: the CMA.”
Across the board, Taylor said Clark State Medical Assisting students test above the national average on the American Association of Medical Assistants certification exam. “They do very well,” said Taylor. “They really get a great education at Clark State.”
Taylor said the demand for CMAs in the community is phenomenal. She said healthcare has shifted, and a certified medical assistant is educated in the administrative realm and the clinical realm. “They can assist on both sides,” said Taylor. “Doctors’ offices, urgent care clinics, specialists; they want CMAs because of their education and versatility.”
The Medical Assistant certificate requires a 200-hour externship, and due to the high demand for CMAs, Taylor said she is able to place students where they will be the most successful. “It’s a gateway into healthcare,” said Taylor. “They get a well-rounded education in healthcare and then can decide where they are comfortable and continue on that path.”
Rachel McFarland of Springfield, Ohio, graduated from Clark State in 2012 with an associate degree in applied science. “I choose the Medical Assisting program because I wanted to work as a chiropractic assistant originally,” she said. “I also liked that I had the option to be administrative.”
McFarland is currently working for the Springfield Regional Medical Group, Community Mercy Health Partners, as a certified medical assistant. “I am able to help patients in more than one area,” she said. “We focus on the patient as a whole and want to treat all of them. I am able to assist the doctors in making sure they get great care.”
McFarland said there are many opportunities as a certified medical assistant. She has worked in chiropractic, ophthalmology, gastroenterology and primary care. “This program really teaches you what you need to know to be a qualified medical assistant. It’s a challenging but rewarding job.”
Clark State student Kristin McPherson is from London, Ohio. She chose the Medical Assisting program because she wanted to “do something with a purpose.” She previously worked in retail. “I wanted to do more with my life and was in search of a more meaningful career,” McPherson said. “Also, I could earn my associate degree and the Medical Assisting certificate in just two years.” McPherson will graduate in the spring of 2016. She then hopes to work part-time as a medical assistant while earning a bachelor’s degree.
McPherson is a wife and mother of three. “If you are looking for a way into the medical field, this program is where to start,” said McPherson. “The knowledge I have gained by taking these courses has been very beneficial. The overall experience has been life changing and eye opening. If I can go back to school and be successful, I am confident that anyone can.”
Taylor said new laws in healthcare are increasing the need for CMAs, and she frequently fields calls from local healthcare providers seeking CMAs. “Our program promotes professionalism,” she said. “We have excellent guidelines and monitoring to ensure we are producing the best medical assistants in the area.”
The week of October 19 is National Medical Assistants Recognition Week.