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How to Become a Medical Assistant in Montana

If you want to become a medical assistant in Montana, you should consider completing the following steps:

Complete an Accredited Program in Medical Assisting
Achieve a National Credential in Medical Assisting
Pursue Medical Assistant Employment in Montana

Montana medical assistants are unlicensed health support professionals who are required to work under the supervision of a Montana licensed physician or podiatrist, who is responsible for assigning administrative and clinical tasks to the medical assistant. All duties that medical assistants perform must be related to the physician’s specialty practice.

Physician or podiatrist supervision must be active and continuous, but does not actually require the physical presence of the supervising physician at the time or place the services are rendered, provided that the physician is available for consultation. However, the physician must be onsite when a medical assistant performs the following:

  • Performs invasive procedures
  • Administers medicine
  • Performs allergy testing

Medical assistants in Montana are NOT allowed to perform the following tasks:

  • Invasive procedures in which human tissue is cut or altered by mechanical or energy forms (including electrical or laser energy or ionizing radiation), unless the physician or podiatrist is on site
  • Care for an in-patient admitted to an acute care hospital facility licensed by DPHHS
  • Monitor conscious sedation, unless under the direct supervision of a physician or podiatrist
  • Administer fluids or medications through an IV, unless under the direct supervision of a physician or podiatrist
  • Administer blood products by IV

 


 

Step 1. Complete an Accredited Program in Medical Assisting

In Montana, it is also the responsibility of the physician to determine the competence of the medical assistant before assigning administrative and clinical tasks. Further, medical assistants in Montana must be graduates of accredited medical assisting programs, or they must possess sufficient experience, education, or training (in the physician’s opinion) to safely and responsibly perform their assigned duties.

Due to the broad scope of practice of medical assistants in Montana, your first step to becoming a medical assistant should include completing a program accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

A medical assistant program may be a certificate, diploma, or associate degree program. The type of program you decide to complete may depend on your overall professional goals. A certificate program generally provides the shortest course of study of less than a year, while a diploma program, also typically a year in duration, usually includes coursework that can be transferred should you decide to pursue an associate’s degree program (A.S. or A.A.S.) in the future. An associate degree program, while it is the longest in duration, at about 2 years, may also provide you with a competitive edge and prepare you to pursue more advanced degrees down the road.

Regardless of the program you choose, you can expect it to include both clinical and administrative study and to culminate in a clinical externship, during which time you will be given the opportunity to work in a real-world setting.

In Montana, there are currently 2 CAAHEP-accredited medical assistant programs.

 


 

Step 2. Achieve a National Credential in Medical Assisting

National certification is now becoming a sought after qualification for medical assistants, as it signifies a commitment to the profession and dedication to continuing education. There are a number of avenues through which candidates may be eligible to sit for a national certification examination, including the completion of an accredited medical assistant program.

Therefore, upon completion of a medical assistant program, you may sit for a number of national certification examinations, including:

 


 

Step 3. Pursue Medical Assistant Employment in Montana

According to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, there were 831 medical assistants employed in the State in 2013. By 2015, this number is expected to increase to 872, and by 2022, to 1,006. On average, there are 35 annual medical assistant job openings in Montana.

According to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the top industries for employment of medical assistants in Montana include:

  • Office of chiropractors
  • Offices of optometrists
  • Offices of specialty therapists
  • physical/engineering/biological research
  • Residential mental and substance abuse care
  • Outpatient mental health centers
  • Residential mental retardation facility
  • Offices of mental health practitioners

You may therefore find the largest number of medical assistant jobs through Montana’s largest hospital systems:

  • Vincent Healthcare, Billings
  • Peter’s Hospital, Helena
  • Patrick Hospital, Missoula
  • James Healthcare, Butte
  • Northwest Healthcare, Kalispell
  • Northern Montana Hospital, Havre
  • Holy Rosary Healthcare, Miles City
  • Community Medical Center, Missoula
  • Bozeman Deaconess Hospital
  • Billings Clinic
  • Benefis Health System, Great Falls

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