M State’s new Medical Assistant diploma program will help fill the regional health care industry's need for multi-skilled health professionals trained to perform both administrative and clinical duties.
M State's new 37-credit Medical Assistant diploma program addresses a need in the regional health care industry by training multi-skilled professionals to perform both administrative and clinical duties in clinics, physician offices and other health care organizations.
The program is based on M State's Detroit Lakes campus, with the majority of courses offered online.
In addition to skills in medical office processes related to billing, insurance and electronic medical records, students complete two clinical procedures courses where they develop basic clinical and laboratory skills. The program concludes with a 160-hour clinical experience served under the direct supervision of a physician
Students in the program must have current immunizations and undergo a criminal background check.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment in the Medical Assistant field to grow "much faster than average" through at least 2026, driven primarily by technological advances and an increased demand for preventive medical services as the baby boom population ages.
Medical Assistant Diploma
Locations: Detroit Lakes
Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology
Medical Office Procedures
Clinical Procedures I
Pathophysiology, Pharmacology and Nutrition
Clinical Procedures II
Medical Assisting Externship*
Medical Assisting Capstone*
*Capstone and externship courses can be completed during the spring or summer term.
Rhonda Eskola and Amanda Orsello
Dec. 20, 2018
The need for health care workers is expected to grow nationwide in coming years, and that increasing demand is opening the door to new opportunities for students interested in medical careers.
Consider medical assisting, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says is one of the nation's fastest growing careers. Anticipating a need in this region, Minnesota State Community and Technical College opened a one-year Medical Assistant degree program this fall through the college's Detroit Lakes campus.
Medical assistants assist in patient care management, performing a combination of administrative, clinical and laboratory duties, and most often working in a clinic or doctor's office.
"Clinics are learning they can get more bang for their buck with medical assistants because they are trained in so many areas," said Lisa Ludescher, who directs M State's Medical Assistant program and previously worked for seven years as a medical assistant in Monticello.
In addition to skills in medical office processes related to billing, insurance and electronic medical records, students in M State's courses learn basic clinical and medical lab skills and also complete a 160-hour unpaid clinical experience under the direction of a physician. Courses are primarily online, with weekly labs on the Detroit Lakes campus.
"Some people want a career in a medical field, but they're not sure they want to be a nurse - and they don't want to work shift work," Ludescher said. "Medical assistants typically work regular clinic hours Monday through Friday and perhaps an occasional weekend, and they still get patient contact and a variety of clinic jobs."
In the Medical Assisting lab on a recent Friday, Ludescher guided students as they practiced giving injections for the first time: Go in too slowly, and patients will feel the needle. Go quick, and there's no time for the nerves to send a pain signal. Keep your hands out of the way of the needle, and you're less apt to get stuck with a needle.
Injections are one of the duties of medical assistants, along with checking in and taking vital signs of patients, performing EKGs and drawing blood. Students also learn office processes related to billing, insurance and electronic medical records.
The students in the program's inaugural year say they like both the varied work they'll be doing as medical assistants and the fact most of the courses are online, so they need to travel to campus only once each week for a hands-on lab.
"I've been working in a hospital setting for 12 years and always loved the medical field," said Rhonda Eskola of Park Rapids. "I am a certified nursing assistant but know that physically I couldn't do that forever. I like the wide range of things we're being trained to do."
"I always wanted a career in a medical field," said Spring Bungert, also of Park Rapids. "This seemed like a good fit for me. I'm a full-time student, a full-time mom and a part-time bartender. I've worked in a group home and in a pharmacy, and I've always enjoyed helping people."
Amanda Orsello of Wadena wanted a career in the medical field and, with a young child at home, liked the fact that she'd be qualified for a good career after only one year in college.
Growth in the medical assisting field is being driven in large part by technological advances and by the increased demand for preventive medical services as the baby boom population ages.
"Many people, when they think of health care, think only of being doctors or nurses," Ludescher said. "They don't realize that there are other health care professions, too."
M State's Medical Assistant degree is currently a fall start program. Graduates will be able to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam offered through the American Medical Technologist Association.
This program can be completed in as little as a year, and total tuition and fees for this year's program is $8,034.
Last modified: December 20th, 2018 at 03:23pm