A new medical assistant program will kick off in January at River Parishes Community College United Way campus, and the organizers said the offering is an excellent opportunity for students to break into the medical field.
The Certificate of Technical Studies in Medical Assisting is a selective admission program created for students who are interested in working in a clinical setting of the healthcare field.
Medical Assistant Instructor Kristal Jones has worked at other RPCC campuses for the past four years teaching the certificate courses. She said the three-semester program can be completed in 10 months.
“Our students typically come two days a week for classes and can work outside of school,” she said. “That’s an advantage for our students because a lot of programs require you to go every day or four days a week.”
Jones said medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in medical clinics, hospitals, urgent care clinics and other medical facilities. She said on any given day a medical assistant will take patients’ vitals, assist in exams or minor procedures, administer injections, schedule appointments, perform basic point of care testing, request insurance approval and update electronic medical records.
“I would say that this program is a great opportunity to make a difference … to go to work and know that you made a difference every day,” she said. “You learn such a variety of skills and there are so many job opportunities out there. Medical assistants are in great demand. This morning I look on Indeed and there were 204 medical assistant jobs within 25 miles. It’s a great career and we offer it now in St. Charles Parish, which we’re really proud of.”
United Way of St. Charles Campus Coordinator Sarina Lirette said the medical assistant program was scheduled to kick off in the fall, but with disruptions in classes due to Hurricane Ida and the fact that so many students were facing storm-related challenges at home the college decided to take the fall semester off of the program and re-launch it in the spring.
Registration is now open, and classes begin in January.
“I think it’s going to be amazing for our growth,” Lirette said of adding the program to the college. “We’re stretching out our reach into more medical programs. We have so many community partners that are in healthcare, and this is going to create an opportunity to work with them and bridge the gap as to what they’re needing for personnel.”
Lirette said she is proud that RPCC’s program is much more cost conscious than other local programs.
“Our program is one of the least costly programs, but that doesn’t mean it’s the least in quality,” she said.
Lirette emphasized that financial assistance, as well as partnerships with the LA Workforce Commission, can make affording the program easier.
“We want to make sure cost is not a barrier,” she said. “If a student is determined to better themselves, we want to help them anyway we can.”
For more information on the program or to register, visit www.rpcc.edu.