New Program Spotlight: Medical Assisting

posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 in  College News

Looking back on her career, Holly Berebitsky can still say with conīŦdence that becoming a medical assistant was the best decision she ever made. 

“Medical assisting allowed me to work in a clinic with doctors and nurses, but I had weekends off and weeknights free,” she said. “It was a really good choice for me.”

Medical assistants help patients navigate the healthcare system and assist healthcare providers with appointments. This includes a wide variety of tasks, from office management and scheduling to more hands-on activities like collecting and preparing labs or taking vital signs.

“I think medical assisting is sometimes misunderstood,” Berebitsky said. “You get to do a lot of the same things that a nurse would do, but in a different setting.”  

Some medical assistants work in hospitals, but the majority work in doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics, or residential care facilities like nursing homes. Their duties often include a mix of administrative work and hands-on medical tasks,  a balance Berebitsky thinks can help workers avoid burnout.  

“Medical assisting is a vibrant career, which is in high demand,” said Dr. Gene Leutzinger, dean of the School of Interprofessional Health and Safety Services at Hawkeye Community College. There is increased demand for medical assistants across the country, and in Iowa the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 26.7 percent increase in medical assistant jobs by 2026.

“There is a great need in the physicians’ offices,” Berebitsky said. “We do not have enough highly trained medical assistants in the field now. The potential for growth is huge.”

To meet this growing need, Hawkeye Community College launched a new medical assisting program in fall 2018. The program, led by Berebitsky, is offered in the evening, with all classes starting after 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 

“It will be very nice for anyone already working in the healthcare field who wants to move up the career ladder,” she said. “If you’re a patient care tech or a CNA, this is a great way to advance your career while still working.” 

Students in Hawkeye’s program will learn the skills necessary to care for patients and assist healthcare providers, including taking vital signs, collecting and preparing lab and diagnostic tests, administering medication, collecting and recording data, and educating patients. 

They will also learn administrative clinic duties, like office management and procedures, scheduling and billing practices, procedural and diagnostic coding, and third-party reimbursement.

“Anybody can be a medical assistant,” Berebitsky said. “Anyone who wants to help people, who can communicate well with others, and who wants hands-on work, medical assisting is for you.”  


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