As CCV explored ways to prepare students for careers that Vermont employers had identified as “fast growing,” the College approached Gifford Medical Center for feedback on a Medical Assisting degree. Teresa Voci, vice president, Division of Medicine at Gifford, was an early and enthusiastic supporter. She had come to Randolph from Massachusetts and was shocked to find that there wasn’t a medical assisting program anywhere in the state.
“As a person who runs multiple primary care practices, I’m ecstatic that CCV recognizes that medical assisting is a valued position,” she said. “Like LPNs and RNs, it is a profession on its own with skills that can’t be taught on the job to just any person off the street.”
The new Associate of Applied Science program prepares students for immediate employment in hospitals, community healthcare centers, outpatient facilities, and ambulatory healthcare services. Medical assistants perform routine administrative and clinical duties in healthcare settings, and play an important role in cost-effective diagnosis and treatment. Voci says that the two 80-hour internships embedded in the program—in Administrative Assisting and Clinical Medical Assisting—are especially valuable to employers.
“Sometimes people choose healthcare because they know they can find a job,” she said. “But medicine is a difficult field. Internships are really important—you may learn about a task in class, but it is how you interact with a patient while performing the task that matters.”
This year CCV students will intern at one of Gifford’s nine area health centers and specialty clinics, a collaboration Voci says is a win-win for everyone. “If we are serious about cutting healthcare costs, this field is an important one. Medical assistants can do jobs in the doctors’ offices that allow RNs to stay at patients’ bedsides, which is cost-effective for healthcare reform; students get on-the-job training for good jobs; and it is good for the economy in general, because people who might have been making minimum wage will now have a profession that pays better.”
CCV’s new degree programs in medical assisting, digital marketing and applied business practices were developed with support from the U.S. Dept. of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant.