UNLV’s Medical Assistant Certificate program hit an important milestone in November with the graduation of its first students. These students have been working diligently toward this goal since they enrolled last spring.
The seven program graduates have good reason to feel optimistic about their careers. The demand for medical assistants is projected to grow rapidly in the coming decade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates employment in this field will increase 31% from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.
UNLV created its medical assistant program last year to help train qualified workers in this growing field. Program developer Dan Barber structured the curriculum to ensure that graduates understand and can apply all the skills employers expect. The program takes a blended learning approach, balancing lectures, skill-based experience, and textbook/online support to ensure that clinical procedures and administrative tasks become second nature. The overarching goal is to set students up for professional success. They should be ready to go to work from day one after graduation, confident in their abilities.
Medical assistants are called upon to handle many essential tasks within a hospital, medical office, or other healthcare setting. Unlike some programs that focus either on administrative office tasks or clinical responsibilities, graduates of UNLV’s medical assistant program are trained and experienced in both areas. On the administrative side, students learn scheduling, reception, bookkeeping, insurance billing and coding, and medical record maintenance. On the clinical side, they gain understanding in preparing patients for examination, assisting with physicals, performing screening tests, preparing medical equipment, changing dressings, and more. Graduates are well prepared to function as a key component of an efficient and effective medical team.
A key feature that draws prospective students to UNLV’s program is access to state-of-the-art medical learning facilities. Jackie Kinsey, director of operations at the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas located at the Shadow Lane Campus, oversees the simulation labs and high-tech classrooms used by the medical assistant students. Medical assistant students get hands-on experience in the Low Fidelity Skills Lab, which helps train them in tasks such as IV insertions, catheter insertions, wound care, and trach care.
Kinsey explains that the labs offer accurate simulations of real-life procedures. To learn IV insertion, for example, students work on a mock up of an arm, complete with artificial blood. The simulation covers the whole environment including workplace safety and patient considerations, in addition to the procedural steps. Working in a high-tech simulation lab like the one at the Shadow Lane Campus allows medical assistant students to practice procedures until they gain full competency and confidence.
Additionally, the labs at Shadow Lane Campus are equipped with a “doc cam,” which zooms in on the instructor and allows all students to see procedures up close. They are also outfitted with multiple work stations so students can maximize hands-on time with the equipment. Even lecture classrooms make full use of the latest technologies, including touch panel computer screens and teleconferencing capabilities.
In February a new class of medical assistants will don scrubs for the first time and begin a journey to becoming a medical assistant. Classes for this new cohort start February 25, with graduation in late August. Medical Assistant Certificate classes meet Monday through Thursday evenings, 6-9 p.m., at UNLV’s Shadow Lane Campus, 1001 Shadow Lane, just west of I-15 along Charleston.
To reserve a seat at an upcoming information session or to speak with a representative about the program, call 702-895-3394. Further information is available online at www.unlvmedassist.com or http://continuingeducation.unlv.edu/catalog/medical-assistant.