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193 Medical Assistants participate in SOWIB's Medical Assistant Certification program

Over the course of working with area healthcare employers and launching the Southwestern Oregon Healthcare Industry Partnership (SOHIP), one of the first action items identified was to help develop a program that could offer certification to uncredentialed Medical Assistants. The problem was articulated by the Office of Rural Health in their summary of findings from their 2016 Listening Tour.

SOWIB partnered with the National Healthcareer Association to become the registered proctor site and developed a test prep course designed to help working MAs sit for and pass the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam.

SOWIB got the project started by sponsoring the costs of participation in the class and certification exam fees for the first 75 MAs across our three-county coverage area. Seats in the class were allocated to interested clinics in a manner designed to achieve maximum impact Once the model was proven successful, clinics were offered the opportunity to cover the costs for additional staff in need of certification. All told, 193 MAs were registered for the program, representing more than 10 clinics.

Final testing for the program will take place in July 2017. In the meantime, 158 of the 166 who have sat for the exam have passed. The pass rate of 95% far exceeds the national average for NHA of just above 70%.

SOWIB is now looking into the possibility of creating a registered apprenticeship program for MAs that would be the first of its kind in the state and offer an alternate path to certification for new staff being hired.

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