Medical Assistant: Season 1, Episode 6

Medical Assistant with YTI Career Institute - Season 1, Episode 6

YTI CAREER Institute

YTI Career Institute has been training the American workforce since 1967.
As we mentioned in the podcast, take a look at where you can request YTI come speak at your high school.

Jim Bologa

Our guest on this episode of Imagine America Radio is President/CEO of YTI Career Institute, James "Jim" Bologa

Dallas Nurse


Check out the blog post we discussed in this episode: Bring Your Personality to the Workplace as a Medical Assistant!

Don't have time to listen? Read the transcript here:

Lee Doubleday: Joining us today on Imagine America Radio is Jim Bologa, president and CEO of YTI Career Institute. YTI Career Institute has campuses located in Altoona, Lancaster, and York, Pennsylvania. These campuses have been educating tomorrow’s workforce since 1967 and are accredited by the [Accrediting Commission] of Career Schools and Colleges, or ACCSC.

YTI Career Institute trains its students into the workforce in business operations management, criminal justice, medical and dental assisting, medical billing and coding, health information technology, respiratory care technician, veterinary technician, culinary restaurant management, pastry art, computer network technician, computer aided drafting and design, HVAC, electrical, and electronics.

Jim, thanks for joining us, and thanks for joining us on another episode of Imagine America Radio.

Jim Bologa: Lee, thanks very much for having me. I’m excited to discuss our topic today.

Lee: Yeah, so today, jumping right into it, we want to discuss medical assistant careers. As a leading provider of medical assistant training, we couldn’t think of anybody better to call than Jim Bologa with YTI Career Institute. Let’s start by telling our listeners exactly what a medical assistant is. Can you briefly describe what a medical assistant does?

Jim: Absolutely, Lee. Depending on the office size and the specialty, a medical assistant could be handling both administrative and clinical duties. For some, front-office work like greeting patients, scheduling appointments, completing medical records, and billing could be a preferred aspect of the job. Others may choose to focus more on the hands-on aspect of patient care, like recording vital signs, preparing patients for examination, and basic lab procedures. Additional functions could include blood draws, vaccinations, removing sutures, assisting in minor surgery, and minor injury care. Most medical assistants generally are going to work in a physician’s office, a health care center, or some kind of health care clinic. There are also many job opportunity in educational services, medical laboratory, and long-term care facilities.

Lee: Gosh, yes. So basically, if you go into the doctor’s office, and you have an appointment with the doctor, the person you see before the doctor could typically be a medical assistant?

Jim: Absolutely right, Lee. You’re spot-on with that.

Lee: Okay, cool. All right, so let’s talk a little bit about what the career outlook looks like for a medical assistant. What is the average that a medical assistant can expect to make in a year?

Jim: Well, Lee, if you take a look at the BLS [US Bureau of Labor Statistics] data, and in particular the BLS data for Pennsylvania, the forecast for the 2018-to-2028 time period is roughly just under $33,000 a year, which works out to be just a little bit under $16 an hour. And what’s also very encouraging is there’s almost 28,000 job opportunities expected over this 10-year period between 2018 and 2028. And Pennsylvania is actually in the top five states in our country where job demand is going to remain very strong for a medical assistant.

Lee: I didn’t know that. What do you attribute that to? I mean, is it just that as the generation gets older there’s more of a need—there’s more of a need for medical assisting and just in the health care profession in general, or what do you attribute that to?

Jim: Yeah. The aging demographics of our country, there are going to be more opportunities. The majority is for folks who are interested in the health care profession or the health care field because grossly, very simply, the population of the US is getting older. And the baby boomer generation is one of the largest groups of citizens in the country, and they’re moving their way through that retirement cycle. And so, with that being said, there’s increased demand for medical assistance just because of the health care needs as we all get older, we need a little bit more—a little bit more care.

Lee: Yeah. Very interesting about Pennsylvania in general. Just being in the top five, I think that’s very interesting. So with medical assistance being in such high demand, it seems like this would be something worth getting an education in. Should someone go to school to become a medical assistant? And how long is a typical medical assistant program?

Jim: Yes. I mean, I would encourage everybody who’s got an interest in going into health care, in particular a medical assistant position, definitely go to school. There’s quite a bit of information that you do need to learn, ranging from medical terminology to anatomy and physiology. There’s really a plethora of information that one needs to understand. And again, I mean, the medical profession or health care profession has its own language. And again, in order to be successful in that industry, one needs education and training. And we pride ourselves on helping students not only learn the actual material but then practically apply that learning or that theory in a hands-on industry modeled environment.

So I would be very—I would encourage folks who have an interest in this profession to go to school. and I would say that most programs are generally going to be on the short side, maybe 12 months—9–12 months on the shorter side; those would be a certificate type program. Our program is 21 months. Our students gain an associate degree in specialized technology. And we’ve designed our program in and around our program advisory committee members. And those individuals are folks who, in the community, who are generally employing our medical assistants. And what they have found is that our program gives them the curriculum and the content, as well as the externship experience—it’s the right amount of time for them and they are generally hiring our medical assistants as soon as they graduate.

Lee: Wow. I actually wasn’t planning on asking this question, but do you find that a lot of people who get a medical assistant degree actually end up further in their education down the road and maybe becoming a nurse or something else?

Jim: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think each individual will be different and some medical assistants will be interested in more of the clinical side and maybe the data side. So they may decide to go down medical billing or becoming a health information technician or manager where they’re actually working with big data. And then those folks who are maybe a little bit more interested in the direct patient care would maybe pursue a practical nurse or RN. So I think there’s two distinct paths that folks can go down, as well as blending the clinical as well as the administrator keys. So it’s really a very nice profession for folks to get into. Because you get a balance of like, I sort of refer to this clinical side where you’re dealing with patients. And then you’ve got the ability to sort of interact with other professionals in an office or health care clinic center environment on the administrative side.

Lee: Right. Yeah, yeah, to your point, it sounds like a really good career to get into if you’re interested in health science.

So now let’s talk accreditation. Schools will sometimes have an accreditation that covers the college itself, and what they call—and then they will have, in addition to that, what they call programmatic accreditation. And that accredits the college’s program. For instance, I know your school (and we mentioned it earlier on the podcast) is nationally accredited by the [Accrediting Commission] of Career Schools and Colleges, or ACCSC. However, your medical assistant program is also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health [Education] Programs. Can you speak as to why that’s important that you enroll into a college that has programmatic accreditation?

Jim: Absolutely. And it, again, I think that folks need to understand what accreditation is and to try to boil it down in very simplistic terms, accreditation really is a quality system or a system of quality control. And again, as you mentioned, we are institutionally accredited by ACCSC. And our medical assistant program is accredited by, the acronym is called CAAHEP. And the reason that we’ve done that is within the CAAHEP accreditation standards are a number of, I would say, policy and procedures and standards that we’ve designed our course around and so that we meet the competency requirements to maintain our programmatic accreditation. In addition, what programmatic accreditation generally affords a prospective student is the ability to sit for a national certification exam immediately, generally either shortly after graduation or concurrent with graduation. So those are the, again, we believe that having a program that is programmatically accredited is as meaningful, our program advisory committee members, again, want students that are coming from a programmatically accredited institution. And, again, there’s a lot of benefits to having that quality system in around the program itself.

Lee: Right, so you come from—let’s say I went to your school, I got a medical assistant degree (and I got that degree through that program accreditation), then I then sit for that certification that I need in order to get hired, right?

Jim: Correct. Correct. So basically, again, just keep in mind that certification is something where you can get hired and then become certified. And again, I always like to make this distinction, whereas, in certain professions or locations, you actually need a license, you need to pass your license exam, which is generally done through the state, before you are able to work. So I just want to draw that distinction that certification is coming from an accrediting agency or a body like that. And that doesn’t necessarily preclude you from going to work right away, but what it does do is it does demonstrate to your employer or your future employer that you understand all the elements and you’ve met all the requirements to be a certified medical assistant.

Lee: Right. Distinguishes you. Yeah.

Jim: Exactly.

Lee: Right. Okay. Well, I know that we’ve written about this in the past, but something that I always find interesting is that, well, automation seems to be a popular fear for many different degrees or different career paths. Medical assisting, and actually many of the career fields in the medical space, will always require a human touch. So let’s say I’m someone who’s interested in becoming a medical assistant, or I think I am, what would you say are three or four personality traits that make a good or great medical assistant that may help identify people who make a great fit for this career choice?

Jim: That’s a great question, Lee. And I think what we’ve generally seen in terms of students coming to us and then moving that through the medical assistant program, is generally one of the characteristics or traits that we think makes a difference is that they truly care about people and that they’re compassionate about people. We generally find our medical assistants to be positive, upbeat folks. And so, again, I think the first sort of requirement is that you really want to help people and you care about people and their well-being. So I would say that that would be one of the sort of the qualities that we look at.

The other thing that we see is that you need to be organized because, again, the offices and health centers generally are required to be really well-run and be efficient. So as a medical assistant, you really need to have good organizational skills. And then you’re dealing with people, like you mentioned, it’s not all technology, but you are dealing and interacting with patients. And so having really good oral and written communication skills is really important. And again, that goes to the fact that you are interacting with an individual who may have an ailment, and that ailment could either be an acute ailment or a chronic ailment. And again, having that characteristic of caring for people and helping people move through a condition, a medical condition or a health care condition, is really paramount.

And then the last thing that I would say, maybe the last one or two items that I think prospective students should think about in terms of good quality, would be an open mind because again, in the medical field you really need to be setting yourself up and thinking about lifelong learning because every day there’s some new piece of innovation or some new drug. And so again, I think you have to have an open mind and understand that the health care profession will continue to evolve and change. And then the last thing I would just say is that technology, as you mentioned, is going to become part of this. So I think I would just encourage folks to also have an open mind to technology and how to really work within the context of human beings and technology because again, I think that as we go through this process of electronic health records and using other elements of technology to help the medical assistant professional provide a higher value-added services, that you’re going to have to work and integrate technology into your day-to-day job and career activities.

Lee: That’s a good point. Good point. Okay, so let’s say that I am a high school counselor and I would like to know more about your school. Is there a website that I can go to? Do you have local reps that come out to high schools to talk about medical assisting, or maybe any of the other programs that we mentioned earlier in this podcast episode? Tell me a little bit more how I would go about getting in touch with you.

Jim: Yeah. What I would encourage everybody to do is go to our website, There’s actually a great article on our blog about bringing your personality to the workplace as a medical assistant. So for the folks who are listening to this podcast, I’d encourage them to go to our blog. And again, for high school guidance counselors and other folks in the high school, whether you’re a teacher, I would encourage folks to visit our website.

On our website, there is an opportunity for high schools to book high school tours. We encourage all of the high schools surrounding our campuses to get a busload of prospective students and bring them out. And we’re working hard in the local community to continue to make sure that students recognize that this is a viable profession for somebody wanting to get into the health care industry and the health care profession.

And again, as little as 21 months, you can start soup to nuts in our program and then be out in the real world working. So again, I would encourage folks; the website has got a lot of information,

Lee: Awesome. Okay. And we will be linking both the blog post and also directions to where high schools can go to, sign up to, have somebody come to their school, or the bus to come to their school and pick up students for a tour.

So thank you very much for your time today, Jim, and it’s always a pleasure having you.

Jim: Thank you very much and thanks for the opportunity.

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