Medical assistant program opens career opportunities


Angela Jones
Nursing & Health Occupations Administrative Assistant, (541) 506-6141

June 1, 2018

One of the fastest-growing job openings in the Columbia Gorge is for medical assistants, and people who would like to learn more are invited to contact Columbia Gorge Community College.

The college launched its medical assisting program in 2007. This is a one-year certificate leading directly to employment in the field with an historical job placement rate of 82 percent.

Medical assistants are responsible for patient room assignments, screening telephone calls, helping with medical procedures, preparing and administering vaccines and medications, and performing basic lab tests. Medical assistants must exercise critical thinking skills and determination, flexibility and initiative; good penmanship, grammar, spelling and computer skills are essential. Instruction combines classroom and lab study with hands-on experience in local healthcare facilities.

“In addition to offering a direct path to employment in our region, medical assistants receive a broad overview of the medical profession,” said Mimi Pentz, program coordinator and primary instructor. “These experiences may inform additional career decisions in the healthcare field.”

Fall term 2018 applications close June 14 for students who have completed the program's prerequisites. Medical assistant classes start Sept. 24 for students who have been admitted to the program.

Students who are not prepared to apply at this time should start planning now for admission to the Medical Assistant program in fall term 2019. Prerequisites can be taken through the upcoming academic year. Students should see an adviser for details. Additional requirements include a criminal background check, availability of personal transportation, immunizations and health screenings.

Medical assisting is considered one of the top five professions necessary for team-based care in medicine, driven by the growing number of elderly patients and a predicted surge in the number of physicians’ offices and outpatient care facilities. Hospital administrators in the Columbia Gorge already cite an increasing number of job vacancies in the field.

As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Medical assisting is one of the nation’s careers growing much faster than average for all occupations.”

The program of study at Columbia Gorge Community College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs in accordance with the American Association of Medical Assistants standards, and has an historical passage rate of 95 percent. Five-year job retention is 90 percent, according to statistics compiled by the college.

For details, contact Student Services, (541) 506-6011. Additional information and a program application are available online.