Medical Assistant Schools in North Dakota: A road to certification

North Dakota’s medical assistants help people get their needs met in non-emergency outpatient settings. They are able to carry out a wide range of routine technical tasks: some in the front office, some in the back.

Best Medical Assistant Programs in North Dakota

Dakota College at Bottineau offers two credentialing options: a certificate or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS). The two programs prepare students for two different certification examinations. The school states that those who have completed the certificate program are eligible for the Nationally Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) exam offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Those who have completed their AAS can sit for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam through American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Western Dakota Tech also offers two options. Here students can select from diploma and certificate.

Medical Assistant Certifications

Although medical assistants are generally thought of as doctors’ support staff , they may also work under nurses. In fact, North Dakota medical assistants who meet requirements set down in state code can administer medications under the supervision of licensed nurses in ambulatory care settings. To do so, they will need to be registered under the state’s Medication Assistant III category.

Generally speaking, medical assistants who meet standards at the Medication III level will be in a position to vie for competitive medical assisting positions in North Dakota and around the nation. In setting requirements, North Dakota looked to national standard setters.

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Medication Assistant III Medical Assistant Pathway

In order to qualify for Medication Assistant III, a person will need to complete an approved program and earn certification through an approved third party organization.

A medical assistant can achieve eligibility by earning one of four third party certifications: Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants, Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) through American Medical Technologists, Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) through the National HealthCareer Association, or National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) through the National Center for Competency Testing. (This is as of the 2014 revisions of state code; Medication Aide requirements have been revised multiple times across a 25-year history.)

In each case, a prospective certificate holder will need to meet prerequisite requirements.

In a Hurry to get Certified?

For a limited time period, North Dakota medical assistants may find it easier to earn their CMA (AAMA). Certification eligibility has been limited to individuals who enroll in medical assisting programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau for Health Education Programs (ABHES). There are no CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited programs within North Dakota’s borders. Under a time-limited pilot program, the American Association of Medical Assistants is granting eligibility to individuals who complete non-accredited programs through schools that have recognized institutional accreditation, provided curricular requirements are met. A qualifying program will be at least two academic semesters (or the equivalent) and will include externship or practicum that meets AAMA standards. The program will include at least 560 hours of non-practicum instruction and will cover curricular topics identified by AAMA.

Individuals can meet standards for the RMA credential through any of several pathways. They may complete programs that are accredited or housed in accredited institutions. Standards are similar to, but not identical to, AAMA’s. The program will be at least 720 hours and include at least 160 hours of practicum. A medical assistant can qualify for RMA certification through experience. However, the North Dakota Board will also look for a transcript.

Individuals may qualify for some certifications on the basis of shorter programs.

Other certifications may signal competence to hiring organizations. Sanford Health Certification recently sought medical assistants with approved national certifications. The non-exhaustive list included the (AMCA) Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC) as well as AAMA, NHA, and NCCT certifications.

North Dakota Employers of Medical Assistants

Medical assistants may work for major healthcare systems as well as small offices and clinics. The following are among North Dakota’s employers:

• Sanford Health
• Essentia Health
• CHI St. Alexius Health
• Ideal Option, PLLC
• Family HealthCare
• Mid Dakota Clinic
• Medallus Medical
• Trinity Health System
• Total Wellness Health
• Benedictine Health System

North Dakota Medical Assistant Salary and Career Outlook

Most North Dakota medical assistants made hourly rates between $13.51 (10th percentile) and $22.47 (90th percentile) in 2018. The mean was $17.58. (BLS Salary Data, 2019)

Medical assistant salaries are well above the North Dakota state average in the Grand Forks, North Dakota-Minnesota metropolitan area. The next highest wages are also in an area of the state that borders Minnesota: the Fargo metropolitan area. Wages generally run a little higher in the eastern part of the state, with those in the East North Dakota nonmetropolitan area averaging $17.26 an hour, those in the West North Dakota nonmetropolitan area $15.83 an hour.

The North Dakota medical assistant occupation has been projected to grow by 28% across the 2016 to 2026 decade.

In 2018, job concentration was well below the national norm across the state, but generally higher in the Eastern part than the Western.

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