Kishwaukee College to offer medical assistant program

May 24, 2019

MALTA – Kishwaukee College plans to introduce a medical assistant certification program, addressing a growing demand for professionals in the medical field.

The one-year certificate program is scheduled to begin in spring 2020 and will first need approval from the Illinois Community College Board, according to a Kishwaukee College news release. Graduates will enter a field of employment that is estimated to increase by 13.4% statewide through 2026, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

“With an ever-increasing demand for medical assistants in the health care profession, Kish is responding to the need in the field,” said Bette Chilton, executive dean of career technologies at Kishwaukee College.

The program at Kishwaukee College will prepare students for entry-level medical assistant positions in doctors’ offices, clinics and outpatient care facilities, Chilton said. Median pay for the position is $33,610, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Medical assistants mostly work alongside physicians and can perform several tasks from taking patient vitals and gathering health history to medical billing and coding, said Sue McCoy, vice president and chief nurse executive at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital. Getting patient information at the beginning of a visit is an essential part of the job, she said.

“From that info the physician, as they’re walking into the room, has a better understanding of what the visit is to be for,” McCoy said.

The idea for the program came from Northwestern Medicine, who reached out to the college last year to fill a need for medical assistants in the growing system, McCoy said.

“This is a very valuable resource for the organization as we continue to bring onboard physicians,” McCoy said. “We need people to support that team.”

Graduates also would be able to serve the needs of other systems in the area such as SwedishAmerican Medical Group based in Rockford, Chilton said.

Start-up equipment costs for the program will run about $10,000, Chilton said. Some of that funding will come from the Kishwaukee College Foundation.

The college will seek accreditation from the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, which will allow medical assistant certification graduates to take the medical assistant certification exam from the American Association of Medical Assistants.

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