Pathways to Work: New Medical Assistant Certificate
Posted on Friday April 12th 2013
Until now, local residents wanting to become Medical Assistants had to travel out of the area and/or pay high tuitions to for-profit programs. Starting this fall, area residents can enroll in GCC’s new affordable Medical Assistant Certificate (MAC) program. Medical Assistants work in hospitals and physicians’ offices and do a combination of clinical and administrative work. The curriculum for the 29-credit Certificate program is specifically designed around standards set by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The MAC program prepares students to take the national Certified Medical Assistant exam and for entry-level jobs.
As community partners in the initiative, the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board and the Franklin Hampshire Career Center assist GCC with networking area employers and job seekers. The Career Center has sent students to Medical Assistant training programs outside the area in the past, but now has a local, affordable and high quality training site for aspiring Medical Assistants.
GCC’s Dean of Professional Studies Terry Lynn said, “We developed this Certificate with help from community partners and in response to the needs of area residents for an affordable, credit-bearing program. This program is another way GCC is saying to the community ‘we hear what you need and we’re making it happen.’”
Erika Heilig, a registered nurse, coordinates the new MAC program. Heilig earned her nursing degree through GCC’s Nursing program and a Master’s in Health Arts & Sciences from Goddard College. Heilig met with major health care providers in the area to assess their needs. Heilig and project member Nessim Watson developed the MAC curriculum combining existing GCC courses and courses created for this program. New courses designed specifically for the MAC program focus on clinical procedures, medical office procedures, and pharmacology. The program also includes a Practicum that requires 160 clinical hours in the field plus 30 hours in the college focused on career skills building.
Nessim Watson said, “We listened to what area employers need, looked at the best programs in the country, and developed a program that fits the CAAHEP standards and is of value to students and the industry.”
GCC’s Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer Sheryl Hruska commented on the impact of the program, saying “GCC offers programs in the Allied Health fields that provide a pathway into a health care career. Because this Certificate is credit-bearing, it serves both as a credential to get work in the short-term, and as a potential stepping stone toward further education and work in higher level health care fields. Along with providing a new career option for our students, the MAC program will help us continue to provide well-trained staff who can contribute to delivering quality health care in our community.”
The MAC Certificate has been approved within GCC’s academic program review process and by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
For information about GCC’s Medical Assistant Certificate program, contact Erika Heilig at (413) 775-1155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GCC’s Medical Assistant certificate program is supported by the Massachusetts Community Colleges & Workforce Development Transformation Agenda (MCCWDTA), which is 100% funded through a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration (TAACCCT). Grant agreement #TC-22505-11-60-A-25.
By Mary McClintock, ’82