New medical certification now available for high school students - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

New medical certification now available for high school students

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the medical assistant is a key component in today's medical workplace.

In Baton Rouge, Glen Oaks High School is the medical magnet school for students in East Baton Rouge Parish. And the Louisiana Workforce Commission is really good news for all high school students with hopes of a job in medicine.

In a big announcement, Louisiana Workforce said "The Medical Assistant certification is now recognized in Louisiana as an advanced statewide credential, creating new opportunities for high school graduates to enter high-wage careers and helping meet the state's current and future workforce demands." The Commission said it included the credential on the Louisiana State Industry-Based Focus List, giving it headline status.

The U.S. Department of Labor describes this job as "Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in offices of physicians, hospitals and other healthcare facilities." U.S. Labor's own statistics show the median pay for a medical assistant in 2016 was $31,540 a year. People who started with a typical entry-level earned about $15.17 an hour. So the pay is pretty good!

Groups like YouthForce NOLA, Orleans Parish School Board, Recovery School District, the Gulf River Parishes Jump Start Team, Ochsner Health System, LCMC Health, and Nunez Community College urged Louisiana Workforce to grant this certification process.

"The Medical Assistant certification complements the state's efforts to advance STEM pathways and associated credentials through Jump Start, Louisiana's premier career and technical education program," said Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White. "In addition to diversifying the offerings in Louisiana's medical pathways, the advanced credential will help prepare high school students for high-wage, high-demand careers."

This Medical Assistant certification is industry-recognized, and is the first approved statewide advanced credential in health care that can be earned by high school students who are trained in a wide scope of general, clinical, and administrative responsibilities.

"The ability to offer industry-recognized certifications, such as this, to high school students is a crucial component of our career readiness model," said Cate Swinburn, the director of YouthForce NOLA, an initiative to prepare students in New Orleans public high schools for careers in high-wage, high-demand fields.

"We seek to prepare all of our students for success in college and career, and certifications provide viable options for students to enter well-paying jobs right out of high school or continue on to post-secondary," said Recovery School District New Orleans Superintendent Kunjan Narechania. "Students who graduate from high school with a Medical Assistant certification will be at a tremendous advantage."

Data provided by GNO, Inc. shows that for every 89 Medical Assistant job postings in the region, only 63 positions were filled. Statewide, for every 261 job postings only 235 positions were filled. By 2021, there will be 1,470 job openings for Medical Assistants in Louisiana, and by 2026 there will be 2,926.
Numerous community and technical colleges across the state provide Medical Assistant training, including Delgado Community College, Baton Rouge Community College, North Shore Community College, and Nunez Community College.

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