Want to train for a high demand health care job?

December 11, 2015

Check out GCC’s Medical Assistant Certificate (MAC) program

What are Medical Assistants and what do they do? Many people know Medical Assistants as the person who takes them into an appointment with a physician, checks their vital signs, asks questions about symptoms, and updates their medical records. That’s just part of the job. Certified Medical Assistants are also trained in clinical skills including drawing blood for lab tests, giving inoculations, and assisting with EKGs, and administrative skills such as medical coding, billing, and maintaining medical records.

What’s it take to become a Medical Assistant? Since 2013, GCC has offered a one-year certificate program that provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of medical assisting, is open to anyone who submits completed health forms and CORI, and includes hands-on learning and a practicum in a local health care setting. Students who successfully complete the program can sit for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam given by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Since 2013, all MAC program graduates have passed the CCMA exam. GCC is pursuing accreditation for the MAC program through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Who studies to be a Medical Assistant? Meet a MAC graduate and two current MAC students.

Gail Hescock, 63, Greenfield, 2014 MAC graduate. After working as a surgical services manager for a Greenfield medical practice for 25 years, Gail went back to school to make herself more marketable. Since completing GCC’s MAC program, Gail has worked at Springfield Eye Associates, an ophthalmology practice.  Gail said, “Working as a Medical Assistant is very rewarding. I assist doctors, do complete health histories and examinations, and handle routine patients as well as ocular emergencies. Medical Assistants are very much in demand and will be more so in the future. I really appreciated the dedication of GCC instructors who were always there to push you to be the very best you could be. We’re fortunate to have such a great school in our backyard!”

Maria Christenson, 48, Turners Falls, current MAC student. Maria had worked at the Community Health Center of Franklin County as a Medical Assistant but lost her job because she wasn’t certified. Maria loved being a Medical Assistant, and although she had work experience as a Certified Nursing Assistant and a Medical Assistant, every job opening she saw required certification.   Maria said, “This is my first time in college and everyone at GCC has been very helpful and made me feel right at home. Studying in the program has been very empowering and has helped me see there is so much more to learn. There will always be people who need help and Medical Assistants are an important part of the mix of trained, compassionate health care staff needed to serve our community.”

Janet (Poppi) Kelley, 66, Northfield, current MAC student. Before attending GCC, Janet worked as a professional photographer, restaurant owner, and organic farmer. Janet enrolled in an Anatomy and Physiology course at GCC after having not attended school since 1987. Janet loved that first GCC course and friends and family encouraged her to enroll in the MAC program.  Janet said, “There are so many directions one can go with a Medical Assistant certificate – working in doctor’s offices, home care, hospice, volunteering, or advocating for parents or older relatives. The instructors are extremely supportive, great educators, and well-versed in the practical things we need to learn. I’m so impressed this is all right here at our fingertips. It’s never too late to go back to school and learn.”

Claire Tyminski M.Ed., RN CCMA PBT, Medical Assistant Certificate Program Coordinator, said, “Many people know about Certified Nursing Assistants, LPNs, and RNs but are surprised to learn about this role. I have trained Medical Assistants for 20 years and am passionate about it. It’s endlessly fascinating. GCC is a very special school with a positive, friendly culture. The students really feel it.”

Kathleen M. Vranos, GCC’s Dean of Business & Information Technology, Professional Studies, and Social Sciences, said, “GCC is very proud of the quality experience our students  receive in the MAC program and in their practicum experiences with area employers. Our students are carefully mentored from admission through job placement to ensure they achieve the high standards required of care-givers in this field.”

GCC’s MAC program was established with funding from a U.S. Department of Labor Transformation Agenda grant.

For information about the MAC program, visit https://www.gcc.mass.edu/academics/programs/medical-assistant/ or contact Claire Tyminski at 413-775-1129 or tyminskic@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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