Medical Assistant Training Programs in Colorado
Colorado medical assistants carry out basic clinical and administrative tasks under the supervision of licensed medical professionals. While they are not licensed, they often hold industry certifications through accredited third party organizations.
Colorado Mountain College notes that duties vary by setting and that medical assistants who are employed in small offices are more likely to be generalists who have both clinical and administrative responsibilities.
Medical Assistant Requirements in Colorado
General standards are set at the state level. Employers are often more explicit with regard to the training required.
Under Colorado code, physicians must ensure that the healthcare workers they delegate to are competent. Training can be assessed through review of diplomas (and certifications if applicable). Human resources departments may carry out this review.
One will find multiple recognized accrediting agencies on the website of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence/ National Commission of Certifying Agencies.
The following are among the certifications referenced by employers:
The American Medical Assistants Association awards the Certified Medical Assistant, or CMA (AAMA) credential. Eligibility is based on completion of an accredited academic program. Under a pilot program that began in 2019, medical assistants can qualify for examination by completing an academic program housed in an accredited school. The program is to include at least 560 hours of non-practicum academic education and at least 160 hours of practicum. It is not mandatory at this time to complete a CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited program, but this pathway remains open.
The American Medical Technologists awards the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential to candidates who meet eligibility requirements and pass an examination. There is a military pathway and an experience pathway as well as an academic pathway.
Academic pathway requirements for AAMA and AMT certifications are at this point very similar. AMT sets steeper requirements for its experience pathway than some other certifying bodies.
The National Healthcareer Association awards the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential. Here, too, there are multiple eligibility pathways.
Certification doesn’t tell the full story, however. Employers may state that they seek individuals with formal medical assisting education.
A Snapshot of the Hiring Market in Colorado
Employers will often accept any of multiple recognized credentials. However, some do prefer or mandate particular credentials, if not at the time of hire then in a specified period afterward.
The following are among employer expectations cited in late 2019 job ads:
Pueblo Community Health noted that candidates were to have recognized credential such as those granted by NHA, AMT, or AAMA. Centura Health noted CMA, RMA, or CCMA within 90 days (with a longer timeframe granted to those already credentialed as EMTs). UC Health asked CMA/ RMA certification within 60 days.
Medical Assisting Programs in Colorado
Colorado Mountain College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). In 2017, the examination pass rate and placement rate were both 100%.
Red Rocks Community College holds accreditation through CAAHEP. The school boasted a 100% job placement rate in both 2016 and 2017.
The Front Range Community College program at Longmont campus has been CAAHEP-accredited for nearly 35 years. Front Range Community College also has newer programs at the Fort Collins and Westminster campuses; they both hold initial CAAHEP accreditation.
Pima Medical Institute holds institutional accreditation through the Accrediting Bureau for Health Education Schools (ABHES). The medical assisting program is available at the Denver, Aurora, and Colorado Springs campuses. Students earn a certificate.
Top Colorado Employers
Many medical assistants are employed by health systems and hospital systems.
The following are among the Colorado hospital and health systems that utilize MAs:
- Centura Health
- UC Health
- Kaiser Permanente
- Banner Health
Children’s Hospital Colorado is a notable employer. Children’s Hospital professional development received a write-up in CMA Today. Coursework, notably, was arranged by a CMA acting in position as medical assistant education and practice coordinator.
Vail Health made the Becker’s Hospital Review 2019 list of top places to work in healthcare.
Urgent care is becoming a common work setting nationwide; many businesses operate under this model. American Family Care is among the major providers. There are currently ten AFC sites in Colorado.
Colorado Medical Assistant Scope of Practice
The legal counsel of the American Medical Assistant Association has provided an interpretation of Colorado code. He states that it is his belief that physicians can delegate reasonable tasks, including injections, to medical assistants in outpatient settings.
Requirements for physician delegation are described in state rule. If a person performs only basic data-gathering tasks (like taking vital signs), they are not subject to the same rules.
Colorado Medical Assistant Salary Information
Colorado medical assistants averaged $36,180 in 2018; this is based on an hourly rate of $17.40. Those at the 10th percentile made $26,590 while those at the 90th percentile made $47,960. The highest average wage was in the Northwest nonmetropolitan area: $39,650. This region topped the Boulder area by more than $1,000.
Colorado has been projected to experience 28% MA occupational growth between 2016 and 2026.
The Colorado State Society is the state professional association. There are local chapters in Metro Denver and Northern Colorado. The Colorado Society uses Facebook for its web presence.
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