How can you recruit and retain medical assistants? Try a paid training program.

Submitted by Mankato Clinic

Medical Assistants settle our patients into exam rooms, take vital signs, give vaccines, schedule appointments and so much more. They play a vital role in healthcare and are often the first healthcare professional patients see. It’s no wonder they are in high demand.  

“Like many clinics across the United States, Mankato Clinic was experiencing a shortage in medical assistants. To recruit medical assistants and reduce turnover, we chose to offer a fully paid training program,” said Marti Wolter, Mankato Clinic Clinical Operations Officer.

In 2023, Mankato Clinic in Mankato, MN, launched an innovative CCMA in Training program. It’s different because it is a full-time paid training opportunity. Mankato Clinic Clinical Operations and Human Resources teams hire Certified Clinical Medical Assistant candidates as temporary employees at 80 hours per pay period at the starting CNA pay grade, with no benefits.

Mankato Clinic also opted for a clinical medical assistant program over a traditional medical assistant program because the program teaches a robust set of clinical skills. Training covers medical terminology, anatomy, First Aid, prepping patients for exams, medical administration and pharmacology.

Mankato Clinic COO Marti Wolter in a green blazer.
Marti Wolter, COO, Mankato Clinic

“One of our goals was to improve hands-on training for new employees working in the clinical setting, and this program has been very successful in doing that,” says Marti Wolter, Clinical Operations Officer. “This paid training opportunity combines flexible online learning with in-person skills training and clinical internships.”

Here’s how it works. The program is divided into these learning modules:

  • 10-week online course with U.S. Career Institute, an accredited education institution
  • Hands-on skills days with a Certified Medical Assistant instructor
  • 4-week internship in clinical departments and certification exam preparation
  • Pass certification exam from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

The final step is placing our CCMAs in departments based on clinical needs. They also become permanent employees who are eligible for full benefits.

Tiffany Velasco is Mankato Clinic’s first graduate of the CCMA in Training program. As the mother of four children, she succeeded in online learning and benefited from hands-on skills training. She was prepared for her certifications exam and passed.

“This training program and learning new techniques and skills affirms and fuels my desire to further my career in health care,” Tiffany says.

After piloting this program, Mankato Clinic graduated 4 Certified Clinical Medical Assistants this spring. Today, they are working in departments across the clinic.

April Oachs, RN, Director of Specialty Care, leads and oversees our Certified Clinical Medical Assistant program.  

“We are incredibly proud of our newest CCMAs. We are impressed by their academic discipline, competence in clinical skills and passion for patient care,” April says. “Each one passed their certification exam so we know our training program is dialed in and giving them the knowledge they need to succeed in their role.”  

To improve retention, a 2-year commitment is required. If employees leave before completing the 2-year term, they are obligated to repay the clinic for training expenses.

“As their mentor, I have a good feeling they will continue their employment well past the 2-year commitment. I will do everything I can to help them thrive at Mankato Clinic and support them in their healthcare careers,” April says. “It’s so rewarding to see our students become CCMAs, begin caring for patients and become part of a clinic team.”

Mankato Clinic has also extended this program to current employees who wish to step into a medical role. Our internal CCMA candidates began training in May.

“Depending on employment needs, we will continue to offer this paid training program,” April says.

Mankato Clinic is one of largest physician-owned and led multispecialty clinics in Minnesota. With more than 180 physician and practitioners and more than 850 employees, Mankato Clinic serves southern Minnesota from 13 locations.

Tiffany Velasco, CCMA, stands next to pediatric weight station in black scrubs.

Photo Cutlines: Tiffany Velasco, CCMA, floats to clinical departments where she is most needed. She works part-time at the clinic while earning her LPN degree.

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