Medical Assistants Recognition Week

By Brenda Lange
Montco's Medical Assisting Certification Program can be completed in less than a year. Carissa Skitt graduated in May 2018 and is now working at Ingleside Medical Associates in Thorndale.

Montco's Medical Assisting Certification Program can be completed in less than a year. Carissa Skitt graduated in May 2018 and is now working at Ingleside Medical Associates in Thorndale.

Dana Paytas and Carissa Skitt may not have known they were joining one of  highest in-demand career fields in Montgomery County when they enrolled in Montgomery County Community College’s Medical Assisting Certification Program, but they realize it now.

“I left my job in retail management when we lost our child care provider,” said Paytas, who decided to pursue a new career when she returned to work. MCCC’s Medical Assisting Program, which can be completed in one year, appealed to her.

From her first classes online to her final externship and certification, Paytas of Phoenixville feels MCCC provided a top-notch educational experience. She graduated in May 2018 and now works at Dermatology Specialists in Limerick.

The program has been in place for about 15 years. During that time, Director of Medical Office Professions Kathy Schreiner has seen the demand for graduates grown for several reasons.

“The population in this area is growing, and our region is home to some of the largest health care entities in the country, making them among the area’s largest employers. The state has the third-largest aging population, with nearly 17 percent of the population being over 65 and in greater need of health care. Also, many nurses have moved into hospital nursing and away from the physician office jobs that are currently being staffed by our graduates,” Schreiner said.

“The job market is phenomenal, and salaries have risen as their roles have expanded,” she said. “Our students are well prepared, and they are valued members of the health care community.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of medical assistants/medical office assistants is projected to grow 29 percent by 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

“The graduates of our program can practice anywhere in the United States,” said Schreiner. “We’ve had a 100 percent pass rate in the past 8 years; 98.6 percent since the program started in the RMA exam.”

Through MCCC’s program, students are prepared for national certifications, including Registered Medical Assistant and Certified Medical Assistant national credentials, as well as the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant through the National Healthcareer Association.

MCCC’s agreements with more than 200 regional health care organizations and physician offices allow new medical assistants to find jobs in their field immediately. Often, their externship leads directly to an offer of employment.

“Ours is the only CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) accredited program in Montgomery County,” said Schreiner. “Students are able to complete the Medical Assisting program in one year and are prepared to begin an exciting and rewarding health care career. And, if they choose to continue, 19 of the credits they’ve earned are stackable to an associate degree in Health Services Management, which can be earned in approximately one and a half more years.”

For 21-year-old Carissa Skitt, of Valley Forge, the Medical Assisting Program fit her passion for helping people. Following her graduation in May 2018, she now works at Ingleside Medical Associates in Thorndale.

Although she originally chose MCCC for its close proximity to her home, she believes it is one of the strongest programs in the field.

“The classes are small, and we had one-on-one attention from our professors. I can’t say enough good things about the program,” said Skitt. “Kathy Schreiner and the professors are supportive, encouraging and really wanted us all to succeed.”

The program also has been a perfect fit for Gregory Soltner, D.O., of the Family Practice Associates of Upper Dublin, who has been its volunteer physician advisor since about 2005. His practice also hires program graduates, whom he calls “very well-prepared for successful employment in our comprehensive primary care setting.”

“The program and campuses have state-of-the-art training facilities,” said Dr. Soltner. “The faculty keeps current with the ever-changing health care environment to make sure the students are learning the latest concepts. In primary care, the medical assistant is invaluable to efficiency of the office and the care of the patient, and our office continues to enjoy participating in their externship program.