Getting your hands on the ideal medical assistant program is imperative so that it becomes a meaningful addition to your competencies, credentials, and curriculum-vitae. Some MA programs in MT are more rewarding and valuable, in worth, in comparison to others.
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The state of Montana recognizes medical assisting as a profession with incredible potential, and this is reflected in the abundance of medical assistant programs in the state. A total of three types of degrees are offered via the best schools: certificate, diploma, and associate degree. The duration of these MA programs usually depends on the kind of coursework. A certificate program in science usually runs for a year, while an associate degree program runs for 2 years. Some associate degrees are divided into 4 semesters, while others are split into 6 semesters.
Almost all courses mandate the necessity of doing a clinical externship to get practical hands-on experience for the job. The usual cost for certificate programs for resident students ranges between $2,000-7,000 in the state. Non-resident students have to pay higher, in most cases, and private universities have a different fee structure. Most colleges provide numerous financial aid grants and programs for students, and some have interesting work-study options so that finance shouldn’t be a hindrance in the way of education.
With the abundance of MA programs in MT, it might be possible that you’re lost in a sea of options, and you’re finding the act of zeroing in on the best course for you a rather daunting task. Well, the decision needs several factors for you to consider, and without adequate background research, you might end up settling for a course that does not suit your needs, complement your skills, and enhance your employability. These usually depend on many factors like state-of-the-art facilities, reputability of the university, and student-teacher ratio, among others.
The program you choose must be accredited so that later, you have the chance to be eligible for the MA national certification examinations. Also, base your evaluation on curriculum, externship partners, faculty experience, placement rate, and degree satisfaction.
While we understand researching adequately can take up time and effort, settling for anything less than you deserve is a mistake smart people avoid. As your schools directly influence your career graph, the monetary benefits financial security you’re going to procure later in life, you must choose the one with the best ratings.
Here are the 5 best medical assistant schools in Montana for 2020:
Known for providing 2-year certificates and 1-year professional diplomas, Gallatin College complements the 4-year degree that an aspirant can continue at Montana State University. Dedicated to ensuring access to workforce development, Gallatin College offers a Certificate of Applied Science (CAS) to medical assistant aspirants in Montana. The degree program is stipulated to last for a year, and students must receive a C for all required courses in order to graduate and procure the certificate. It has a total of 36 program credits, and enrolment is limited, as it attracts a lot of applications from the state of Montana every year.
The program begins in Fall semesters, and the three program courses that have the highest credit score of 4 include Medical Procedures I, Medical Procedures II, and Externship. The externship usually happens at ambulatory settings pre-decided by the college, at the end of the program. They have state-of-the-art classroom and lab facilities. It is one of the programs that are eligible for financial aid, but only in approval with the Department of Education. If you’re a student who has been registered for 6 or more credits in this college, you’re required to procure health insurance, which can be received for $2,300-$2,700, depending upon the semester term.
|Number of Courses||Certificate|
Helena College offers 30+ certificate and degree course options, which range from arts, humanities, and communication to business, STEM, law, health sciences, and industry and trades. Helena College offers a Certified of Applied Science (CAS) in medical assisting to medical assistant aspirants in the state of Montana that provides high school goers a unique opportunity to continue their education in the health support sector.
CAS degree can be completed while an aspirant is working towards an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences. It requires 29 total credit hours to be completed, and 3 related courses require a minimum of C for you to procure certification at the end of the term. Moreover, maintaining an overall GPA of 2 is essential towards graduation and procuring the degree. Scholarships and financial grants are available in Helena College, and students can also use the special work-study feature, under which they can earn considerably well, alongside their coursework.
|Number of Courses||Certificate|
Flathead Valley Community College’s (FVCC) program of study offered to medical assistants is a certificate, which has a remarkable 100% job placement rate between 2018 and 2019. For 2017, all students appearing for the American Association of Medical Assistant (AAMA)’s certification license examination had a 100% success rate. Besides remarkable performance, as reflected in the high placement rate, FVCC also boasts of a high level of degree satisfaction from its past students.
To be a certified medical assistant out of FVCC, the CAS program needs you to spend 180 hours exclusively on clinical externship, besides fulfilling the 1-year course, which is divided into 3 semesters. It is often also a test center for National Centre for Competency Testing (NCCT)’s licensing exam, and preparing for the test, it offers individuals a one credit course focused on exam preparation during the summer semester. Their classes begin in summer, as well as fall semesters.
|Number of Courses||Certificate|
|Campus||Kalispell, MT / Libby, MT|
Highlands College of Montana Tech offers an Associate in Applied Sciences (AAS) degree to its medical assistant aspirants. The minimum credits required to complete this 2-year course is 69, and it is divided into 4 consecutive semesters. The first semester is for 16 credits, the second is for 18 credits, the third is for 17 credits, and the fourth is for 18 credits. It is a hybrid course, which has a mixture of online classes and offline mandatory lab work. If someone is unable to complete the course the first time, they might opt for it again. But, they would be debarred from the third attempt to clear their coursework or graduate.
It also mandates that students have to do a clinical externship, and to be eligible for clinical externship placement, the college lays down some pre-requisites, like students must pass a minimum of 10 courses from the core coursework with a minimum grade C, have passed a criminal background check, have a health insurance coverage, have completed and procured certifications for First Aid and Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, have taken three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine, and have the required documentation ready for a TDaP immunization.
Besides, for the externship, they are required to buy proper attire and stethoscopes. At present, the AAS degree takes in 10 students for the course, and sometimes a competitive selection process is put together to ascertain the right candidates. Classes begin in the fall semesters, and the placement rate of the 2018 batch was 100%, and that of the 2017 batch was 80%.
|Number of Courses||Associate's Degree|
This school offers an AAS degree to its medical assistants, and the program was started in the 2015 Fall semester. It is a 2-year degree program that requires students to take the special as well as general education courses, as deemed necessary by the AAS degree curriculum. The pre-requisites that are necessitated before the initiation of the program include a criminal background check, all immunizations to be done, besides having health insurance and providing documentation for the same.
The program requires students to procure a minimum B grade in all MAST, BIOS, and HIEP courses. A total of 91 credit hours must be fulfilled by the end of 2 years, and the program is divided into 6 consecutive semesters. Each year has three semesters: fall, winter, and summer. In the last semester, medical assistant aspirants are required to do a clinical externship, which accounts for 12 out of their 14 credit hours, and the rest is dedicated to certification exam preparation.
|Number of Courses||Certificate|
Finding the right school for your MA program is essential, but so is the degree you set your heart on. Discover the best medical assistant degrees in Montana that suits not only the basic needs but also complements your competencies.
The state of Montana outlines the scope of practice laws in the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)’s directory but does not define or necessitate the need for formal training or certification for its medical assistants. Though it sounds relieving, this only exists in theory. In practice, most employers opt for contenders who have formal training, national certification or better, or both. Getting a national certification gives you flexibility, as you can practice anywhere across the United States, and increases your chances of employability. It also denotes a positive advancement of your career in public health and medicine.
The two most critically acclaimed national certifications for Montana medical assistants are the American Association of Medical Assistant (AAMA)’s Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential. It can be taken at Prometric centers across the state, and usually consists of 200 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) to be completed in 2 hours and 40 minutes. The other certificate, Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) provided by American Medical Technologists (AMT), is based on eligibility criteria.
You’re eligible to get the license if you have completed medical training from US Army, or have 5 years of relevant work experience as a MA, or if you have a completed MA degree that has 720 hours of total credit work, with 160 hours of mandatory externship. Other worthy certifications include National Center for Competency Training (NCCT)’s National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA), National Health Career Association (NHA)’s Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), and National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP)’s Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA).
As per September 2, 2020, indeed.com data shows that medical assistants in Montana get paid $15.03 hourly salary, which is at par with the national average wage.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (as of May 2019) data reveals that the mean hourly salary of MT medical assistants is $17.50, whereas the mean annual wage is $36,390.
|Percentile||Annual Salary (Montana)||Annual Salary (National)|
Source: BLS (as of May 2019)
It is clear from the above table that the annual salary of medical assistants in Montana is higher than the national average at 10, 25, 50 and 75 percentiles. Though the difference in amount between the national annual salary and that of Montana is very narrow, it still manages a higher variable, until it falls below the national average at 90 percentile.
Average Salaries of Medical Assistants in Some Major Cities of MT
|City||Hourly Salary (indeed.com, as of Sep 1, 2020)||Annual Salary (salary.com, as of Aug 27, 2020)|
The city of Bozeman in Montana pays the highest salary per hour to its medical assistants, closely followed by Butte. The annual salary estimates, however, rank Billings as the top paying city, closely followed by Great Falls.
Average Salaries of MAs in Some Metropolitan Areas of MT
|Metropolitan Area||Hourly Salary||Annual Salary|
|Great Falls, MT||$16.02||$33,320|
Source: BLS (as of May 2019)
Missoula, MT pays the highest hourly salary of $18.73 to the medical assistants as well as the highest annual salary of $38,950 in comparison to other metropolitan areas in MT. Whereas Great Falls, MT area pays its MAs the least, i.e., $16.02 per hour.
The May 2019 BLS report shows that a total of 1,240 medical assistants were employed, and the employment rate per 1,000 jobs is 2.65.
The 5 industries employing the highest number of MAs in the state are given below:
|Ambulatory Health Care Services||830|
|Offices of Physicians||580|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||300|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||230|
Source: BLS (as of May 2019)
The anticipated future growth for medical assistants in Montana is higher in comparison to the national average of the remaining states, according to the table below. It might be owing to the fact that Montana is one of the top 5 states whose baby boomer population is aging faster than the rest of the country, and are in dire need of primary healthcare.
As physicians and healthcare professionals would get wound up in duties to do the same efficiently and effectively, they would fall back upon medical assistants who can take care of the administrative aspects of the healthcare facilities. The demand is also because it is a typical job that requires entry-level education and provides good monetary benefits and financial stability to aspirants.
Here is long term projection data for medical assistants and their future growth in the state of Montana. It is evident from the table that Montana is expected to see a projected growth rate of 28% for the years 2016-2026, which is 5% higher than the national growth projection.
Estimated Employment Growth for Medical Assistants -MT
|Projected Employment Growth in 10 Years||Annual Projected Jobs||Growth %|
|Montana||1,250 (2016)||1,600 (2026)||180||28%|
|National||686,600 (2018)||841,500 (2028)||99,700||23%|
In addition, short term projection data also shows the projected rise in annual job openings in the short-term span between 2019 and 2021. It predicts 160 average openings annually and reveals a 3.4% change between 2019 and 2021, where 40 more jobs are predicted to be added. By 2021, the total numbers of medical assistants employed in Montana are expected to go up to 1,230 from 1,190 in 2019.
As the job comes with flexibility, you can choose the location of your choice, and relocation isn’t a problem. The healthcare industry is one of the top sectors to remain in prominence at present, and the entire electronic advancement of the healthcare system of monitoring calls for more technical staff like medical assistants, who can handle pre-surgery and pre-monitoring procedures.
This society brings together all the medical assistants who are presently employed in Montana, and also former ones, under one roof. It defines their scope of practice, duties, and helps MAs enhance their career opportunities, demonstrate their skills better, and contribute to effective healthcare in the state. From educational information to job opportunities to the latest news and recent updates on medical assisting in the state, this society brings to you all the information you need to know.
Being the national association responsible for bringing together all medical assistants in the United States, AAMA also defines the scope of practice and laws prevalent for MAs in different states. It also lays down rules and regulations for smooth operation. The scope of practice laws in the state is clearly outlined here, for Montana, and some of the laws delineate the duties that MAs can perform, and the ones they are not qualified to perform.
This state organization ensures that all primary healthcare facilities are up-to-date, and all healthcare-related needs are being met in the state, in addition to ensuring the general well-being of the people. For all the latest health-related news in the state, this is a handy resource one can look up to.
It consists of members of all healthcare professionals in Montana and is a meaningful resource to get updates on the latest related issues in the state, besides being abreast of job opportunities near you. The association is also an opportunity for all medical health professionals to show a unified front and ensure the general well-being of the medical fraternity besides improving patient care in an active and ongoing fashion.