Western Pennsylvania Guide to Good Health
Departments Health Links Calendar Archived Issues Media Kit Contact Us
  Senior Care Senior Living Camps & Activities for Special Needs Children Ask the Expert  
     
 

Washington Health System’s MA Program Helps to Fill Local Vacancies
By Daniel Casciato

A medical assistant (MA) training program is a program designed for people to learn appropriate skills and behavior when it comes to assisting, supporting, and caring for people who have medical problems.

It is helpful for people to learn how to correctly record medical information in databases or on paper. Some of the duties involve helping a physician during a visit by making sure supplies are in order such as gowns, gloves, instruments and trays with specimens. Another duty would be fulfilling administrative tasks such as transcribing doctors' notes into their specialties, organizing charts and records of patients whom they have seen previously so they can help find out what treatment has been completed or what problems may exist that need further action from the doctors.

“Medical assistants are vital to our physician practices,” says Judy Devenney, Director of Operations at Washington Physicians Group. “They support our providers and patients across all aspects of life.”

Recently, though, the MA profession has had a significant decrease in recent years and it’s been difficult to fill jobs. One reason for this is the time commitment for training.

The normal training program for Medical Assistants (at an accredited commercial school) ranges from 12 to 18 months of classroom education, depending on the depth of the program. This is a Monday through Friday, 8 hour a day, commitment. The clinical portion ranges from 200 to 300 hours. The cost is typically $24,000.

“When they graduate the starting pay rate for a medical assistant is approximately $14-15/ hour range,” says Devenney. “Many students choose to go the LPN avenue: same time commitment and cost, but higher starting wage after completion. Enrollment has decreased at these career schools over the past two years.”

At Washington Health System (WHS), an MA in-training program was created to address the ongoing problem of medical assistant vacancies within the health system, specifically the Washington Physicians Group (WPG) and Family Medicine outpatient office settings.

“We looked at the feasibility of having a program sponsored by Washington Health System with a commitment of employment by the participant,” says Devenney. “Our recommendation was to initially identify 4 to 5 participants and then hire them into the WHS Medical Assistant Clinical Externship Program.”

The program consists of online course work via Career Step and on site clinical training at the WHS medical practices. Career Step is an online training solution that provides the didactic education which can be completed in a consolidated period of time (4-6 months) online. This online program is self- paced and costs approximately $2,400 per participant. This cost is absorbed by the employer.

“We use the WHS Simulation lab, WPG and WHS Residency sites for onsite education and clinical internship training and we require 300 clinical hours,” adds Devenney. “We have teamed up with Southwest Training services. They assist us with the recruitment of applicants and provide on the job training reimbursement for successful candidates that meet SW training qualifications.”

Devenney noted that they offer this program to five applicants with the hopes that at least four, if not all five, would successfully complete the program and become employed by WHS. Each successful candidate will be guaranteed a full time position after completion of the program, and will also agree to work for WHS for a commitment of 2 years.

Some of the skills and responsibilities of medical assistants include:

  • Renders care as directed by the physician/extender, including administration of injections, procedures and providing treatment according to office standards
  • Perform ancillary test such as but not limited to: phlebotomy, lab procedures, suture/staple removal, vision and hearing screen, pulmonary function test, assist with Pap smear processes, urinalysis, EKG set up and administration, sterilization techniques, hemoccult collection and processing, NST, urine catherizations and casting as applicable in the practice.
  • Schedules ancillary tests and hospital admissions. Receives authorization for ancillary testing. Verifies insurance coverage.
  • Orders appropriate labs based on office protocols
  • Monitor and maintain clinical supplies for exam rooms and medication storage room, while ensuring they are stocked, neat, and in order at all times.
  • Enters vaccine information into PA SIIS registry system.
  • Manages the clinical environment with attention to safe, efficient, and timely care of patients.
  • Maintains complete and accurate documentation on all patients.
  • Communicates calmly and accurately with patients, physicians, students, and co-workers.
  • Participates in a team approach to patient care by accepting all assigned job duties, rotating to other offices as needed, and serving as a resource to patients.
  • Performs clerical and clinical duties in accordance with WPG policies and procedures.
  • Monitors expiration dates of emergency kits, vaccines, medical products etc., and replaces accordingly.
  • Assists in quality initiatives, closing gaps, and education patients on preventive medicine appointments and tests
     
    According to Devenney, becoming a medical assistant is a great way to start a career in health care.

“Health care workers are in such need and demand right now,” she says. “This could lead to advancement in the health care field. This gives people the opportunity to help and care for others that need help, and work in a professional office setting.”
 
What makes the training program at WHS unique compared to similar programs is that they make it easy for the applicant to go to school and work at the same time. They also guarantee a full time position upon completion.

“The opportunity to get the required training for becoming a Medical assistant is paid for by us, we supply all the clinical internship requirement. We pay for all of the schooling costs—$2,400.00,” says Devenney. “We pay you a wage during your schooling—$12.00 an hour. So basically you are getting paid for going to school!”

She adds that the students actually get to work in their many office sites, and have the opportunity to rotate through Primary Care Provider sites as well as specialty sites to get a better overall experience as how a medical assist works in different areas of health care.

“This is an accelerated time frame,” says Devenney. “Our students complete the entire course in 5 months, compared to the 18 month commitment.”

The next class will begin in September. Apply at www.whs.org/careers. Class will be posted by end of July.

Return to Top



Westmoreland County Special Edition Download a PDF version Advertise Subscribe for FREE
Subscribe to GTGH

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

Focus

CMS Housing – Apartments

Doterra

WR Cameron Wellness Center

Medicare Specialists of Pittsburgh

East End Food Coop

Reserve This Space | Call 412-835-5796 or email goodhealthmag@aol.com


Western Pennsylvania Guide to Good Health. All rights reserved.


Send email to goodhealthmag@aol.com