MIDWEST TECHNICAL INSTITUTE — EAST PEORIA
280 High Point Lane
East Peoria, IL 61611
MON–FRI: 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM
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280 High Point Lane
East Peoria, IL 61611
MON–FRI: 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Joining us on this episode is Allysen Classen, the Medical assistant program director for Midwest Technical Institute and Delta Technical College.
Midwest Technical Institute and Delta Technical College have six locations, located in Illinois, Missouri, and Mississippi. They are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
Bob Martin: Joining us today on this edition of Imagine America Radio is Allysen Classen. Allysen is the director of medical assistant programs at Midwest Technical Institute and Delta Technical College. We want to talk about medical assisting careers. So, as a leading provider of education and medical assistants, we couldn’t think of anyone better to talk about these particular careers than Allysen.
Allysen, tell us a little bit, if you would, what is a medical assistant career and what do they do, and maybe a little bit more about Midwest Tech, if you won’t mind?
Allysen Classen: Sure. So medical assisting. I always tell people, think about when you’re at the doctor’s office and the person that comes and gets you from the waiting room and brings you back and takes your vital signs, and they might take your blood and give you injections. That’s usually a medical assistant. So, I like to think of them as the meat and potatoes of the office. They can do everything.
So, our medical assisting program here trains our students to assist in all types of clinical procedures. Our students will eventually learn how to do EKGs. They can help with X-rays, phlebotomy (so that’s your blood draws), immunizations. They can prepare records, they can assist the physician with surgery in the office, and then they can also do things like billing and coding and scheduling. So, all the way from the front to the back, they can help with all those things. Midwest Technical Institute is really good at training our students to make sure that they are competent in the things that they need for a job. There are other schools that require you do all the pre-reqs before you get into their medical assistant program. Well, we cut that part out, so it’s a really good way to get in the field of the medical field if you’re not really sure exactly what you want to do, or it’s great for just a long-term career.
Lee Doubleday: Yeah. I’m glad you mentioned that. Do you find it’s common that individuals would maybe start as a medical assistant and then move into more of a nursing program or something like that later?
Allysen: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we have students that they know that’s the path they want to take. They come to school here. They want to become a medical assistant and then continue their education into the nursing field or greater. And then we get some people that are like, “This is what I want to do. I didn’t know this is what I wanted to do, but I think I could just see myself being a medical assistant forever.” And both are very stable ways to have a career in life.
Lee: Speaking of medical assistant careers, what does the career outlook look like for medical assistants, maybe both on a national level and then maybe a little more granular where your campuses are located?
Allysen: Sure. It’s great. I’m sure you know, the medical field right now is booming, but for medical assistants specifically, it’s really good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is saying that by 2029, it’s projected that there will be a need to hire over 864,400 medical assistants across the country, so that’s nationwide. And then just in our area—so Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi alone; that’s where our schools are located—the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there will be a need for over 37,230 medical assistants in that same time period. So, we’re looking at big growth here. They’re finding that medical assistants are very versatile, and they’re starting to use them in ways that they previously used to use nurses, so it’s great.
Bob: So, you’ve got a young person or a young adult that has a passion or a real vision that they want to be in the health care field. They like people that are in it. Now you’ve got this COVID thing and all of that going on, which reinforces how important these people are in the whole process. So, Midwest Tech becomes a real good option to bring that person in, nurture them along and make them feel good, and get them moving in that career. Is that fair?
Allysen: That is fair. I mean, I wish—when I was growing up and graduating from high school, it was like “Four-year college or nothing,” okay? Now, technical school, like I said, it gets you right on the path of the things that you want to do, so you know you want to be in the medical field. We’re going to start you on the first day doing those things that make you feel like you are part of the medical field, learning how to dispose of hazardous materials and wash your hands and things like that. We do that on day one.
So, again, like I said, it’s a really good option for either someone coming straight out of school or you want a secondary career, and you just need stability in your life. I’m jealous of the students that are 19 and 20 years old that finish our program and here they are with a career. And I didn’t have that until my late 20s. So, anybody that’ll listen to me, I’m like, “Hey, this is the way to go if you want to be in the medical field, and you don’t know exactly what you want to do, or you do know exactly what you want to do, this is a great option.”
Lee: Yeah, that’s great. Well, with medical assistants being in such high demand, it seems like something worth getting an education in. Should someone go to school to learn how to become a medical assistant, and what does a typical program include, and how long is a typical medical assisting program? I know it’s kind of a three-parted question there.
Allysen: Yes, someone should go to school to be a medical assistant, if that’s what they think that they want to do, and I think that the more that people look into that, they’ll find out that it’s definitely something that has a lot of—it has a lot to bring to the community and to yourself, actually. So, we pride ourselves at Midwest Technical Institute on making sure that our students are prepared. We make sure that we have real exam rooms, we have real equipment, EKG, spirometry machines. We do blood draws on each other, so making sure that they see those real tests that they’re going to be doing in the field is very important and making sure that they’re prepared for that when they get out into the field as well.
Lee: So, let’s say I’m a student, and I’m interested in becoming a medical assistant. When I tour a campus or this program, what are a few things that I should be looking for, because it seems to me like a program like this is going to require some really updated equipment in order to stay relevant in current work trends? So is the equipment that the school uses something I should consider, and what else should I consider—accreditation, maybe length of program, or certifications that I might be able to achieve or obtain while I’m in school or maybe relationships with employers? I know that’s a big deal, really, in why every student should be considering the relationship with employers that the higher education institution has, because, ultimately, that’s what you’re going to school for, right is to be able to be employed. So, can you kind of speak to that a little bit? What would I be looking for in a school if I’m interested in medical assisting?
Allysen: So, I think that when you go to different schools, and you start touring the schools, yes, you absolutely should look at their equipment and think about things that are going to help you be successful in the field. So, making sure the equipment is up to date—we actually have meetings quarterly just to discuss our equipment to make sure that we’re staying on top of things, to make sure that we’re not falling behind on the times and making sure that we have the appropriate amount of equipment for students to be successful in their education.
The other thing is, yes, you need to make sure that you’re looking for accreditations. Our school is definitely accredited. Our school is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges—ACCSC is the other name for it—so that’s important, too. And then in terms of certifications, we offer more than one type of national certification. So, the first one is an AAMA, American Association of Medical Assistants, that makes you a certified medical assistant—and you can go to all 50 states and be a certified medical assistant without having to do anything extra.
So, yes, it’s very important that you look for those things. You look for what kind of equipment—that it’s up to date, it’s not old or lacking—and that you’re looking for those accreditations for the companies or the schools that you’re pursuing, because the last thing you want is to go to a school, and you find out that they’re not accredited, and some of those things don’t really count anymore if you don’t necessarily follow the right steps, so.
Our relationships with employers are—I mean, we make it a point to talk to our employers face-to-face. We have meetings a few times a year where we invite our employers into the school, we show them around, we show them our equipment. We ask them for their honest opinion on not only what’s going on here at the school, but what they’re seeing in terms of our graduates and the people that they’re employing. Are we lacking anything? Do we need to add anything? So that relationship is very important to us, and it’s ongoing, and it’s always evolving. We do evolve that relationship depending on what’s going on in the field. I mean, for example, I was at an office yesterday and I took it as a very big compliment: I had an office manager tell me that whenever someone asks for recommendations on medical assistants to hire, she’s like, “I always give them your number because I know that coming out of school, they’re going to be competent, and they’re going to be professional.”
Bob: That’s great. That whole word of mouth—that says volumes about your school. You’ve been an educator for a long time, and you’ve seen a lot of kids, a lot of people coming through. You’ve seen most of them are very successful, and you see some that maybe haven’t, got off on different track. In your opinion, what are the three or four personality traits most common in the successful student/graduate/employee that you see?
Allysen: First of all, you have to have a need to want to help people. That compassion is something that will take you a long way in the medical field; it’ll help you grow as a person. So, I feel like, first and foremost, that’s what you really need, is that compassion and that need to help people. You have to be a good communicator. You’re going to have a lot of different people that are not necessarily at the best point of their lives and they’re vulnerable, so being able to communicate with people like that, let them know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it is important. We’re saving lives out here, so you have to be thorough. You have to be dependable. You’re dealing with all kinds of people—different age groups, different personalities—so that package right there is enough to get you going, to get that base, and then you just build from there. But you definitely have to have those things.
Bob: Well, we’ve been talking to Allysen Classen. We really appreciate the time you spent with us today. You’ve given us a really good insight on an absolutely critical career opportunity out there for students. For anyone who’s interested in more information, either on this particular topic, go to our website. We really want to thank you for your time today, Allysen. You’ve been a wonderful guest.
Allysen: Thank you for having me. Thank you.
Lee: And we hope we can ask you to come back again soon to talk a little bit more. We want to thank everyone for taking time out of their schedule to listen to today’s podcast, and we hope you have a great day. Thank you and goodbye.
Allysen: Thank you.