College of Technology Celebrates Medical Assistants Week



This week, the College of Technology’s Medical Assistant Program will be celebrating National Medical Assistants Recognition Week as sponsored by the American Association of Medical Assistants. This is an additionally notable week for the College of Technology as the Medical Assistants Program is celebrating its 5th year anniversary.

The profession of Medical Assistants has been growing significantly in recent years. Medical Assistants are trained to assist physicians in clinic settings and to handle both “front office” and “back office” responsibilities. For example, in a typical day, Medical Assistants take vital signs, record patient histories, answer insurance questions and schedule appointments – all of this and more – with competence and compassion.

“The population of the US is aging as the Baby Boom Generation begins retiring,” said Gretchen Geller, RN, director of Montana Tech’s Medical Assistant Program. “As a result, there will be an increased need for health care workers generally. Medical Assistants will definitely play a significant role in addressing our country’s healthcare needs.”

The US Department of Labor estimates that employment of Medical Assistants is projected to grow 34%, which is much faster than average, ranking medical assistants among the fastest growing occupations over the 2008–18 decade and that job prospects should be excellent. The estimates from the Labor Department are that annual wages of Medical Assistants were $28,300 in May 2008.

“There’s a reason we employ 15 medical assistants at our office,” said Dr. Zachary Post, an orthopedic surgeon in Billings. “Each medical assistant puts a face to their physician’s practice. Since my medical assistant is pleasant, kind, and patient, patients get that same impression of me. She goes out of her way to build me up and demonstrate that we have a good working relationship. When I enter the room, patients are happy to see me. She [puts] my practice in a good light by adding that extra dimension I can’t.”

“Montana needs more highly skilled workers, especially in high need areas. Our Medical Assistants Program is helping to meet that need,” said Dr. John M. Garic, Dean of the College of Technology. “And, as it is Medical Assistants Recognition Week, I especially want to congratulate our Medical Assistant students, faculty and alumni on the 5th anniversary of their program. I am proud to be associated with them.”