Medical Assistant Schools and Certification in Idaho
Medical assistants work in healthcare offices and clinics throughout Idaho. They may work under direct supervision of physicians or under other qualified professionals like RNs or physician assistants.
Idaho medical assistants do not hold state licensure but frequently hold third party certification. This is part of the process of assuring doctors (and their agents, human resource departments) that they’re up for the job. Medical assistants can achieve eligibility for some, though not all, certifications through experience pathways. However, employers often reference training in job ads. Some specify formal medical assisting education. Some want individuals who have already proved themselves on the job.
A medical assisting program can provide a relatively quick entry into healthcare. An Idaho resident can choose his or her level of education based on immediate and long-term goals. Idaho has a relatively high concentration of higher level programs. There are quite a few articulation options. A certificate is the shortest. Idaho students can opt for degrees at the associate’s level or even the bachelor’s level. A bachelor’s is also the foundation for graduate study in many health fields.
Accreditation matters. Programmatic accreditation may be granted by the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Institutional accreditation may be granted by various entities approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Top Medical Assistant Programs in Idaho
The College of Western Idaho (Boise) is CAAHEP-accredited. The school offers an intermediate technical certificate and an associate degree. The 2017 cohort had a graduate exam pass rate of 94% and a placement rate of 95%.
The College of Eastern Idaho (Idaho Falls) offers an Associate of Applied Science. The program is also CAAHEP-accredited.
Lewis-Clark State College (Lewiston) offers students multiple options. They can earn an Associate of Applied Science or even a bachelor’s. The bachelor’s curriculum will include 37 credits of general studies and 33 credits of approved upper division coursework. Lewis-Clark State College reports a five-year retention rate of 90.48%, exam pass rate of 92.31%, and job placement rate of 89.47%. The placement rate was 100% for the class that entered in 2016.
An advanced certificate in administrative medical assisting is also available through Lewis-Clark State College.
Idaho Medical Assistant Scope of Practice
Idaho medical assistants can expect a typical scope of practice. The Legal Counsel of the American Medical Assistants Association indicates they can perform reasonable duties under delegaton, including phlebotomy and injection; this is based on language in state code that exempts individuals from licensing if they are administering diagnostics or remedies as directed by a physician.
Available Medical Assistant Certifications in Idaho
As of early 2020, the National Commission of Certifying Agencies lists five accredited medical assisting or clinical medical assisting programs:
• American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA): Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
• American Medical Certification Association (AMCA): Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC)
• American Medical Technologists (AMT): Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
• National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT): National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
• National Healthcareer Association (NHA): Certified Clinical Medical Assistant
The American Medical Certification Association and the National Healthcareer Association also offer administrative medical assistant certifications.
Candidates qualify for general or clinical certification by meeting training standards (i.e. formal education, work experience) and then passing an examination. Content varies somewhat by organization.
Employers may have preferences (for example, CMA or RMA).
The American Association of Medical Assistants requires formal medical assisting education. Currently AAMA certification pathways are a little broader than they have been in the past. The organization has a pilot program by which individuals can qualify for testing on the basis of programs housed in accredited schools (even if the program is not itself accredited). The program must meet minimum standards for practicum experience and for length. Students can expect to put in at least one academic year.
American Medical Technologists has an experience pathway, but requires fully five years of experience in medical assisting. (A current instructor might be certified with less.)
Top Idaho Employers
The following are among the health organizations that employ medical assistants in Idaho:
• Saint Alphonsus Health System
• Kootenai Health
• St. Luke’s Health System
• Primary Health Medical Group
• Heritage Health
• North Canyon Medical
Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene is on the Becker’s Hospital Review list of best healthcare employers. Kootenai specified in a recent job posting that candidates should have completed accredited medical assisting programs and should be prepared to pass the AAMA, NCCT, NHA, or AMT examination within a set time period.
Idaho Medical Assistant Salary and Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Idaho medical assistants averaged $33,540 in 2018; this is based on an hourly wage of $16.12. Those at the 10th percentile made $25,340 while those at the 90th percentile made $41,570.
Idaho has a location quotient of .96, very near the national norm, indicating typical job concentration. Coeur d’Alene has the highest job concentration in the state. Here the location quotient is 1.52: significantly higher than average. The job concentration in Boise City, meanwhile, is exactly at the national norm: 1.0.
The Idaho State Society of Medical Assistants is the state professional association (https://www.aama-idsma.org).
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