Efficiency, organization, patient care – it’s all in the wheelhouse of Idaho’s qualified medical assistants. With a growing healthcare sector, as is reflected in the fact that major health systems like St. Luke’s are finding themselves in the middle of a massive, multi-year expansion, medical assistants here in Idaho are enjoying exceptional professional opportunities.
Projections from the Idaho Department of Labor show a 4.4% increase in the number of medical assistants working here during the two-year run-up to 2021 just to keep up with demand.
But before you can begin taking advantage of Idaho’s flourishing healthcare sector and growing opportunities in medical assisting, you’ll need to come prepared with the right blend of education and training, which requires completing the following steps:
|Complete a Medical Assisting Program|
|Consider National Certification|
|Land Your First Job in Medical Assisting|
No practice restrictions exist for medical assistants in Idaho, provided they complete their work under the direct supervision of physicians.
Step 1. Complete a Medical Assisting Program
Anybody serious about making a career in medical assisting is best served by completing a diploma, certificate, or associate degree program.
While all three types of programs provide a similar course of education and training that includes practical learning experiences in real-world settings, associate degree programs take much longer to complete than certificate or diploma programs (2 years vs. 10-12 months) because they also include a general education core.
Though longer in duration, an Associate of Science (AS) in Medical Assisting comes with its share of benefits in the form of more/better job opportunities and better earning power. You may even find that some of Idaho’s employers now require or at least prefer candidates who have completed an associate’s degree.
And if you’re interested in earning a bachelor’s degree down the road, an AS degree will seamlessly transfer to any bachelor’s in the allied health or medical sciences fields, allowing you to complete the program in about two years. Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees are also widely available, the only difference being that they are strictly designed for career training so they don’t typically have the benefit of transferrable credits.
Whatever type of program you choose, it’s never a bad idea to choose one that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Choosing a CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited program ensures you have what you’ll need to practice as a competent, entry-level medical assistant, and easily qualify to take national certification exams.
To date, there are 7 CAAHEP-accredited programs and 3 ABHES-accredited programs in Idaho, in addition to online programs.
Step 2. Consider National Certification
Credentials are an important part of the medical assisting profession and are your best opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition and show that you’ve achieved a higher level of competency in medical assisting.
Some of Idaho’s top employers may even require national certification due to liability or health insurance provider requirements. The two most widely accepted credentials for medical assistants are:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA): American Association of Medical Assistants
- The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA): American Medical Technologists
You’ll need to meet eligibility requirements through education and/or experience, and you’ll need to pass a national certification examination to earn either the CMA or RMA.
But the CMA and RMA aren’t the only credentials in medical assisting:
- National Center for Competency Testing: The National Certified Medical Assistant AND National Certified Medical Office Assistant
- National Healthcare Association: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant
- The American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants: Podiatric Medical Assistant, Certified (PMAC)
- The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel In Ophthalmology: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA)
Step 3. Land Your First Job in Medical Assisting
Becoming a member of a professional association like the Idaho Society of Medical Assistants is a great way to stay up-to-date with the latest legislative changes to the healthcare industry and medical assisting profession. It’s also a great resource for finding continuing education opportunities to keep your national certification current, and as a way to stay connected with others in your field through networking events, state conferences, and more.
Now that you’ve completed your education and have earned national certification, it’s time to check out the state’s largest healthcare organizations to learn more about the kind of job opportunities that are available:
- Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Idaho Falls
- Kootenai Medical Center, Coeur D’Alene
- St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Boise
- Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Boise
- Portneuf Medical Center, Pocatello
2019 job growth projections from the Idaho Department of Labor are aggregated through the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource, Projections Central. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
All salary and employment data accessed July 2020.