Medical Assistant Programs in Louisiana:
Meeting the Medical Assistant Requirements in Louisiana
Medical assistants carry out routine tasks, clinical and administrative, that help people get their needs met in outpatient settings. Medical assistants are in demand — so much so that one Louisiana health system has taken matters into its own hands. It has developed partnerships to provide medical assisting education free to low income individuals who will later interview for positions.
There are many other programs offering medical assistant training for the cost of a year or so in college – and many other employers.
The Most Popular Louisiana Medical Assistant Programs
Bossier Parish Community College in Bossier City is Louisiana’s sole CAAHEP-accredited program. It has held its CAAHEP accreditation for more than 20 years. Students earn a diploma. They sit for the CMA (AAMA) exam before graduation.
Ochsner Health System has developed partnerships with Delgado Community College and Baton Rouge Community College, among others, to bring free medical assisting education to a select group of potential employees. Most individuals who have gone through the program have gone on to become Ochsner employees.
The Eastern College of Health Vocations holds institutional ABHES accreditation. Graduates test for the Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) certification offered by the National Association for Health Professionals.
Louisiana Medical Assistant Credentialing
Louisiana medical assistants are unlicensed. However, they often have third party certification. In fact, the National Healthcareer Association stated in a report published on the Louisiana Believes website that 55% required it (www.louisianabelieves.com › c-medical-assistant-advanced-credential). The Healthcareer Association is one of five medical assistant credential agencies accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). It’s unique in that it went through an application process in order to be recognized as an Industry-Based Certification (IBC) in Louisiana. Individuals who hold the NHA Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), like those who hold other recognized credentials, go through a two-step process for initial certification. They meet education, training, or experience requirements as well as examination requirements.
Medical Assistant Certification in Louisiana
Certification can be important even when it’s not required. Organizations may have a pay differential for certification. They may note particular certifications. One practice for example, listed the NHA, National Association for Health Professionals (NAPH), and National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) as qualifying.
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential is an industry-leading certification around the country, though one that medical assistants in some states, including Louisiana, have had difficulty achieving. The difficulty stems from the organization’s accreditation requirements.
Right now, it’s easier to achieve CMA (AAMA) certification than it was in the past. Under a time-limited pilot program, students can achieve testing eligibility on the basis of programs that hold only institutional accreditation, provided that they meet curriculum and externship requirements and take the equivalent of at least two semesters. (The standard pathway depends on enrollment in or completion of programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs or the Accrediting Bureau for Health Education Schools).
Most Louisiana programs are not accredited at the programmatic level. However, they are housed in accredited schools. It can be important that there be some type of accreditation. It increases opportunities for professional certification. It can also mean financial aid eligibility.
The NHA notes that medical assistants may stack credentials. They may, for example, seek the Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS) to signify expertise with electronic medical records (EMRs).
Medical assisting programs often have particular certifying examinations that they prepare students for. They may even require the examination. The student may also have the opportunity to test for other certifications.
Employers of Medical Assistants in Louisiana
Medical assistants work primarily in outpatient settings, though many are employed by hospital systems.
The following are among the major employers:
• Ochsner Health System
• Hospital Corporation of America (HCA)
• Mercy Health System
• East Jefferson General Hospital
• Our Lady of the Lake (OLOL) Physician Group
• David Raines Community Health Center
Woman’s Hospital appears on the Becker’s Hospital Review list of top healthcare employers.
Medical assistants may work for many different types of specialty clinic. OLOL Physician Group recently advertised positions in internal medicine, pediatric endocrinology, and cardiology practice, among others. The most common was family practice.
Urgent care centers are a growing employment setting nationwide. Premier Health is based in Baton Rouge but has a multi-state presence. One will find centers operating in Louisiana under the following names: Lake Urgent Care, Rapides Urgent Care, Lake After Hours, St. Francis Urgent Care, Lourdes Urgent Care, Urgent Care LCMC Health, and Family Physicians Urgent Care.
Louisiana Medical Assistant Salary and Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported average Louisiana medical assistant wages of $13.82 an hour or 28,740 a year in 2018. The 10th percentile wage was $20,040; the 90th percentile wage, $38,570.
The highest average was in the New Orleans-Metaire area: $30,580. Data suggests those at the low end of the wage scale here made significantly more than those at the low end in some parts of the state. The 10th percentile wage was $23,000; the 90th percentile wage, $38,850.
Louisiana had a medical assistant location quotient of .95, indicating job concentration very near the national norm. Location quotient was highest in the Shreveport-Bossier City area: 1.48. Considering the population of this area, this translates into a lot of jobs. Hammond also had a job concentration above the norm.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission has medical assisting ranked as ‘three star’. Some Louisiana programs are listed as eligible for funding through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. In early 2020, the Louisiana Workforce Commission website states that new occupational data is forthcoming.
Louisiana Medical Assistant Resources
The American Association of Medical Assistants have provided links to Louisiana scope of practice documents (https://www.aama-ntl.org/employers/state-scope-of-practice-laws).
Louisiana medical assistants may become members-at-large of the American Association of Medical Assistants.
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