By Cindy Foster

New UNM Health Sciences Medical Assistant Program Expands at Rio Rancho Campus

A new medical assistant program offered jointly by the UNM Health Sciences Rio Rancho Campus and Central New Mexico Community College is off to a fast start this fall.

"They are coming from everywhere - we have students from Albuquerque's northeast heights, from the East Mountains - which is great. If you are willing to drive out here from the East Mountains then you are really motivated to get this education," says Jill Anderson, program director, Medical Assistant School of Health, Wellness L& Public Safety at Central New Mexico Community College.

Twenty-five was the original cap for the class but there was so much interest - all through word of mouth - that it was increased and presently have 29 students.

"We haven't had any marketing for the program yet but students are searching for this type of education," she says.

New Mexico has been fighting a health care provider shortage for years with reports consistently showing rural areas suffer disproportionately from health provider shortages, but the crisis is also creating new opportunities for other educational programs.

Health care employment is expected to grow by 18 percent over the next decade, with most of that growth coming in new types of medical support staff, according to an October 2017 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

"The role of medical assistants is really expanding as they take on a lot of RN duties. Our program is reflecting that through the enhanced skills we teach. It is also a plus that we are able to provide this training for about a third of the cost of training for private schools which makes it so much more affordable for these students," says Anderson.

The students are completing prerequisite training at CNM and UNM this fall according to Anderson. As the program progresses, students will also be able to take advantage of clinical training opportunities with agencies within Sandoval County and at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center.

"It is a three-term program with students actually working in the community during the latter half of summer 2019," she says.

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