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Bob Martin: Today’s guest on this edition of Imagine America Radio is Dennis Mascali, campus president, Lincoln Tech in Iselin, New Jersey. The topic of today’s episode of Imagine America Radio are medical assisting careers. As a leading provider of quality education and training in the medical assisting career area, we can’t think of anyone (or any other school) better to talk about this than Dennis Mascali and Lincoln Tech.
Dennis, welcome to the show.
Dennis Mascali: Thank you for having me.
Bob: Hey, for the benefit of our audience, could you just please outline very quickly what is involved in a career in medical assisting and what does a medical assistant do?
Dennis: Well, a medical assistant is essentially a multifunctional practitioner. They perform all the administrative and clinical tasks in an office of the physicians or in a hospital or in a health care facility. Their duties vary with location or specialty (and the size of the practice) but, essentially, they include measuring vital signs, taking blood pressures, drawing blood samples, giving injections or medications as directed by the physician. They also record patient history and personal information. They help the physicians with patient examination. They schedule patient appointments. And they’re going to be the ones that enter the patient information into the medical records.
Lee Doubleday: Dennis, this is Lee. I’m talking to Dennis Mascali, campus president of Lincoln Tech in Iselin, New Jersey. Thank you for sort of running down what a medical assistant does. I’m pretty sure all of us have come in contact with a medical assistant at some point—which gets me to my next point, which is I’m sure this is a high-demand career field.
So, can you tell me a little bit about the career outlook for medical assisting, both on a national level and then maybe a little more granular where you’re located in New York/New Jersey area?
Dennis: Sure. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that by 2028, it’s projected that there will be a need to hire nearly one million medical assistants across the country. In the New York/New Jersey area alone, growth is expected to be nearly 70,000 for the medical assistants.
Lee: Wow, a million medical assistants across the country! I knew it was a lot, but that’s still—that’s a large number. So, with medical assisting being in such high demand, it definitely seems like something worth getting an education in, which brings me to my next question. And it’s actually sort of a three-parted question.
The first one being, should someone go to school to learn how to become a medical assistant right now? The second question is, what does a typical program include? I’m sure, like you had mentioned, that medical assistants are sometimes responsible for drawing blood, so is that maybe something that’s included in a medical assisting program? And number three, how long is a typical medical assistant program?
Dennis: Well, now is the best time to be in the health care field, as we see that the demand for health professionals is absolute. Being a medical assistant allows the person the opportunity to enter the field and gain valuable experience because of the multifunctional nature of the position. From there, a lot of medical assistants decide whether they want to progress in the medical field—nursing, perhaps—and then decide on a specialty based off their experience.
A typical medical assisting program includes a good mixture of didactic, which is lecture and classroom work, where they’ll learn anatomy and physiology and medical terms. But it also should include a fair amount of lab work, where they’re going to be drawing blood, learning how to take vital signs, learning how to perform EKGs, learning how to enter medical records in any kind of electronic medical records stimulation packages.
Plus, a good medical assistant program always includes an internship for field experience. Typically, medical assistant programs run nine months full-time during the day and approximately a year and a half part-time in the evening.
Lee: Yeah. Thanks for talking to that. And something that you said that I thought was interesting is that a medical assisting program could be a great entry position into furthering their career in health spaces.
So that kind of gets me to my next question, which is, are there certain certifications that students can expect to either acquire by going to school with Lincoln or be prepared to take a certification exam after graduating?
Dennis: Yeah. Our program is going to prepare students for multiple certifications. The first is going to be the basic life support, or CPR, certification, which they will get as required as part of our program. Our program will also prepare the students for the registered medical assistant certification (RMA) issued through the AMT, as well as the certified phlebotomy technician and certified electrocardiograph technician, given through the National Healthcare Association. Since our school is a certified testing center, in most cases, these students are going to take these examinations or certifications on campus. Now for the RMA certification, they’ll take the test on campus, but they can’t actually receive their certification until they’ve actually graduated from our school.
Lee: Okay, now let’s say I’m a student and I’m interested in medical assisting. When I go to tour a campus offering this program, what are a few things that I should be looking for? Because programs such as this, it seems as though it’s going to require some updated equipment in order to stay relevant with current work environments—so is the equipment that the school uses something I should be considering? And what else should I be considering? Maybe accreditation or even employer partnerships when looking for a school?
Can you kind of give me one to two or three checkpoints on what it is I should be looking for when considering going to school for a medical assisting program?
Dennis: Absolutely. The facility and the lab room and the equipment is very, very important and should be taken into consideration. The equipment in the lab room should be clean and it should be well kept, and it should also contain updated equipment. Our lab rooms—we have two. One is essentially a wet lab. It is the room that we use where students learn phlebotomy, where they draw blood. It contains simulation arms, centrifuges, glucometers, reagent strips, and microscopes. We also have a second lab room that’s a simulation of a doctor’s office. We call it the doctor’s office classroom. In there, we are going to simulate professional health care settings, where students can practice on computerized mannequins and on themselves to learn how to take vital signs, read and update charts, practice specimen collection, and lab testing. It is equipped with lab tables, EKG machines, autoclaves as a pulse oximeter, surgical instruments, injection simulators, and blood pressure cuffs.
Another thing to consider when coming to a school is that you want to ask about the faculty and how experience of the faculty. The one good thing about Lincoln Tech is a lot of our faculties were actually graduates themselves.
Now the other thing that’s very important is the accreditation. Accreditation is important for several reasons: It matters for students because accreditation essentially watches your program and makes sure your program is at a level of excellence. Also, the accreditation allows the students to gain greater access to federal loans, scholarship, postsecondary, and military programs that require students to attend accredited institutions. For the MA program, graduating from an accredited institution also allows the student to obtain their certification immediately after graduation. Or else they would have to gain five years of field experience in order to obtain that certification.
And lastly, I do want to say that the employer partnerships are incredibly important. A student coming to an institution should always inquire about what doctors offices, what hospitals, what health care facilities that the school’s associated with.
Bob: We’re having a great conversation with Dennis Mascali, campus president, Lincoln Tech in Iselin, New Jersey. Real quick, last question before we go into the conclusion here.
Can you give me three or four really good personality traits that you’ve seen over the years that for students that could relate to, if students and employees and maybe possibly employers—becoming employers, excuse me?
Dennis: Absolutely. I think number one, first and foremost, is they need to have great people skills. When you enter the health care facility, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of patients, from older patients to younger patients, so you have to have great people skills. I believe you also have to be a quick thinker, because you’re going to have to give information to the doctor based off of an examination of the patient. The other trait I would suggest is patience. You’re dealing with sick people, so you have to have patience so you can hear exactly what’s wrong. And lastly, I would think people need a sense of humor, because a sense of humor is very good for a bedside manner.
Bob: Great point, Dennis. Here’s my takeaways from my conversation with Dennis Mascali, campus president, Lincoln Tech in Iselin, New Jersey.
My first takeaway from today’s call is that medical assisting careers are in very high demand, with opportunities available both nationally and regionally. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s going to be a million jobs available in this area between now and 2028, of which 70,000 of those are going to be within the New York/New Jersey area. Is that fair?
Dennis: That is fair.
Bob: The second thing that I’ve taken from this conversation is Lincoln Tech in Iselin, New Jersey, is a leading, nationally accredited school, providing education and training needed to fill these jobs right now. You’ve got the ability for people to enroll and start on that track to fill those jobs right now.
Dennis: I 100% agree.
Bob: Finally, I’m going to ask Dennis if he wouldn’t mind being available by email and by telephone for any questions that might come up from potential students, parents, or school counselors that are listening to this. So, Dennis, would you just take a moment and just repeat your personal information—emails, website addresses, telephone numbers, please—for your campus.
Dennis: Sure. The website address for Lincoln Tech is www.lincolntech.edu. The number for the Iselin campus—the main number—is (732) 548-8798, and my personal extension is 42104. Anybody can reach me via email through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob: We’ve just had a great conversation and I want to thank our guest, Dennis Mascali, with Lincoln Tech in Iselin, New Jersey. Topic of today’s episode of Imagine America Radio has been medical assisting. We want to thank our podcast audience for taking time out of their very busy and now hectic schedules to join us on this episode of Imagine America Radio.
On behalf of my colleague, Lee Doubleday, and myself, please be safe and we’ll be talking to you all very soon. Thank you and goodbye.