Frequently Asked Questions by Students
How is the program designed?
- NIMAA is a seven-month program with online learning and onsite experiences for approximately 25 hours per week.
- NIMAA uses live and recorded online instruction, interactive materials, and lively discussion groups; NIMAA takes advantage of the latest in educational technology.
- NIMAA provides a parallel in-clinic experience where students learn from licensed medical professionals.
- NIMAA includes a formal customized education and mentoring program to provide personalized support throughout the program.
- NIMAA graduates will receive support in taking national MA examinations through the National Healthcareer Association.
- NIMAA is in the process of gaining accreditation with the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools and upon approval, will offer the Certified Medical Assistant credential through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
Are students required to have any prior MA education?
Is there any language or literacy requirement before considering an applicant for an interview?
All applicants must be literate in written and spoken English. Participating host clinics may impose a bilingual requirement according to their needs when they decide which student candidates they want.
What is the demand for medical assistants?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 23 percent growth in demand for medical assistants between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.
A strong national medical assistant training program is an essential prerequisite for the successful transformation of the nation’s healthcare system to person-centered well-being, where the emphasis is on holistic, primary care.
Additionally, there is need for a program that gives medical assistants competitive living wages. The average annual salary for an uncertified medical assistants is $26,500 plus benefits, while certification delivers an average annual wage of $34,000 plus benefits. Training medical assistants in the best practices of team-based primary care makes them even more valuable and paves the way to further professional growth.
What rate of pay do you expect a NIMAA graduate to be offered?
Wages should be in line with state averages, but toward the top end given that our training focuses on creating high-functioning MAs. Our national survey of FQHC CEOs in August 2016 showed more than half would pay higher wages for MAs trained in our approach than regular MAs.
The lead founder of NIMAA, Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) , is committed to providing a living wage to all staff and has an agency-wide minimum wage that brings the hourly wage for MAs well above the state average. Individual health centers need to make an informed decision that meets their needs.
NIMAA believes that MAs trained to this level of practice sufficiently benefit their employers to make higher wages for them a win-win for both parties.
Will NIMAA medical assistants graduate with skills and abilities that expand their role in the healthcare center?
NIMAA is actively engaged in transforming physician-centered practices to patient-focused teams with key roles for medical assistants. NIMAA recognizes that primary care organizations are challenged by a shortage of physicians, an abundance of patients, and a desire to provide more holistic care. Physicians are stepping back from an “only I can do it” mentality and, instead, are working closely with non-clinicians using standing orders to empower them to take responsibility for specific clinical tasks. Graduates of the NIMAA medical assistant program possess the skills and abilities required to perform as a vital member of an integrated healthcare team, at the top of their credential, allowing providers to practice at the top of their license.
How can we ensure that MAs are competent with the fundamentals when they are done?
This is exactly why our group of health service providers began this program. Our program is structured differently from a traditional medical assisting program. In essence, we want to “train our own,” using the most sophisticated teaching and digital tools available. With our program, the students will learn both the traditional skills and what we call the “interprofessional and integrated team-based care skills.” They will learn these in parallel: in the instructional program and, at the same time, at the clinic hosting the student. It will be the responsibility of the preceptor from the host clinic (who is a qualified medical assistant with experience) to teach the students the skills and to grade them on their competency of the skills. We understand it is not possible to teach all the skills in the clinic setting and we are working on a way to have students meet with a qualified instructor during the program to practice skills learned and to teach skills not taught in the clinic.
Regarding support, NIMAA students receive all the educational materials and online coursework they need to succeed in the program. The NIMAA headquarters and/or lead clinic in your state provides technical assistance to the host clinic, and students have direct access to their NIMAA instructors.
What certificate or credential will graduates receive? What exams can the students take?
There will be a NIMAA certificate that will have significant economic value in and of itself because of the reputation in primary care of the founders and leaders of this program. Regarding national examinations, currently our program is designed for NIMAA students to sit for the NHA exam, National Healthcareer Association, and receive the CCMA credential. In 2019, we expect that NIMAA students will be eligible to sit for the CMA exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants.
How many students will NIMAA serve?
In NIMAA Phase II, we will serve a minimum of 70 students in 6 to 10 host clinic sites, partnering with high-performance primary care practices, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
Ultimately, the program will be available across the nation, serving the market beyond FQHCs and enrolling large numbers of students every year as well as upgrading existing MAs.