How to Become a Medical Assistant in Idaho

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If you want to ensure you meet competency requirements of entry-level medical assistant jobs in Idaho, you should complete the following steps:

Complete an Educational Program in Medical Assisting
Consider National Certification
Research Employment Opportunities in Medical Assisting

According to the Idaho Department of Labor Communications and Research, there were 2,364 medical assistants employed in the State in 2013. The healthcare industry remains a force to be reckoned with in Idaho, with a projected growth rate of nearly 36 percent throughout the next decade.

The healthcare industry currently makes up the second largest share of the State’s private sector employment, according to reports published by the Department of Labor. The Gem State also ranks second to only Arizona for its growth in healthcare employment between 2003 and 2013.

Although the number of medical assistants in Idaho is much smaller than in other states, due to Idaho’s relatively small population, the growth in this field—and in the healthcare industry overall—bodes well for Idahoans who wish to purse medical assisting jobs.

Medical assistants are not licensed or registered in Idaho, and their practice is not restricted, provided their work is completed under the direct supervision of physicians.

Administrative duties of a qualified medical assistant may include scheduling appointments, updating and maintaining medical records, and billing insurance companies, while clinical duties may include taking vitals, preparing patients for examinations, and administering medications.



Step 1. Complete an Educational Program in Medical Assisting

Unlike licensed healthcare professions that demand the completion of a specific educational program, medical assistants have a number of options when it comes to their education. As such, you may choose to complete a medical assistant diploma, certificate, or associate degree program, each of which has distinct advantages.

A certificate in medical assisting is typically the shortest program, requiring a commitment of between 9 and 12 months. A diploma program, also typically lasting about a year or less, may be a better choice, however, if you plan to pursue an associate degree in medical assisting in the future, as coursework in a diploma program is usually transferrable.

An associate degree medical assistant program (A.S. or A.A.S.), the longest in length at about 2 years, provides the most extensive study in the field. However, completing an associate degree program may pay off in the form of broader employment opportunities.

Completing an accredited program in medical assisting is helpful, as it ensures you are prepared to serve as a competent, entry-level medical assistant. The two most widely recognized accrediting bodies for medical assistant programs are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

All CAAHEP- and ABHES-accredited programs culminate in a clinical externship during which you will have the opportunity to practice your newly acquired skills in a real-world setting.

To date, there are 6 CAAHEP-accredited programs and 3 ABHES-accredited programs in Idaho, in addition to online programs.

A comprehensive medical assistant program prepares students in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and effective (behavior) learning domains. Further, most programs prepare students to successfully take a certification examination and begin practicing as a skilled practitioner.



Step 2. Consider National Certification

Credentials are an important part of the medical assisting profession, particularly given the fact that it remains an unlicensed healthcare occupation. National credentials may satisfy employer requirements, liability insurance provider requirements, or health insurance company requirements. Certification is also one of the best ways to display a commitment to your profession and to indicate that you have achieved a level of knowledge and skill in medical assisting. The two most widely accepted credentials for medical assistants include:

However, you may find that other national credentials better fit your needs, such as:

Most credentialing program eligibility requirements can be met by completing a medical assisting program, thereby allowing you to sit for the required certification examination.



Step 3. Research Employment Opportunities in Medical Assisting

The first step to finding a medical assistant job in Idaho is by identifying the State’s largest healthcare employers. Like other healthcare professions, the largest employers of medical assistants in Idaho are ambulatory care services and hospitals, as reported by the Idaho Department of Labor.

As such, you may find job postings through these organizations:

  • Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Idaho Falls
  • Kootenai Medical Center, Coeur D’Alene
  • Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Boise
  • Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Boise
  • Portneuf Medical Center, Pocatello

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