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Contact: Lynn Mathers, Chair, Division
of Office and Business Technology - 208/792-2466
Office & Business Technology Gearing Up to Offer New
The Office and Business Technology Division of Lewis-Clark State College will submit a
proposal this fall to add a new program to its course offerings in fall 2002: the division
hopes to offer training for students to become medical office assistants.
The new program will prepare students to earn certification as medical assistants. While
it is a new and separate program, coursework for medical office assistant will build on
the training for medical office work already offered by the college.
According to Lynn Mathers, Office and Business Technology Division Chair, medical
assistants perform both clerical and clinical duties in medical offices. Currently, this
kind of training is usually gained on the job, according to Mathers. The program will
allow students to enter the work force already cross-trained to handle a variety of
functions between the "front" and "back" of most medical offices.
The new program will entail a two-year track; however, the division will also offer a
certificate for those already in the profession. A half-time professor will be added to
teach the courses for the new program.
Mathers said the division completes a needs assessment when considering adding a new
program. In this case, the needs assessment showed a demand for trained medical
assistants, and representatives in local medical professions were supportive of the idea.
As for where most graduates of the program would be working, Mathers explained, "Most
medical assistants are not hired to work in hospitals, but rather in doctor's offices and
clinics. There didn't seem to be a clear-cut route for people to get the training other
than learning on-the-job." Mathers added that, while medical assistants may not be
hired specifically as medical assistants in hospitals, their training and skills can allow
them to perform other duties in a hospital setting.
Further supporting the new program, the outlook for medical assistants in Idaho shows a
shortage of applicants, while employment in the field is expected to grow faster than
average. Continued expansion in health care fields is also expected to create more
openings for medical assistants. At the national level, employment prospects for medical
assistants are expected to increase faster than average through the year 2006.
Mathers said there is a need regionally for medical assistants. Just one example, Rockwood
Clinic in Spokane, has the potential for placing 90 medical assistants and may be working
with LCSC to provide students with training in the clinical aspect of the program. She
said the division hopes to be able to offer some classes for the new program by next