New LA Medical Asst. Certification Creates Opportunities For High Schoolers

Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White

NEW ORLEANS — 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 Louisiana Workforce Commission included the credential on the Louisiana State Industry-Based Focus List at the urging of a broad coalition that includes 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 among others.
         “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.”
         Medical assistants work alongside physicians to perform administrative and clinical duties. The medical assistant certification is an industry-recognized credential that verifies an individual’s expertise in the field. The certification, the first approved statewide advanced credential in health care, 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. “
         Local public school systems across the state champion the certification as a valuable tool for positioning students for success in life.
         “We are excited to now be able to offer a jump start to students interested in careers in the health sciences with the medical assistant certification,” said Orleans Parish School Board Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. “They will not only graduate high school with a well-rounded education, but they will also be a step ahead with an industry-recognized credential that serves them well the rest of their lives.”
         “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.”
         “Health care is a field that will always be in demand and this certification will allow our students to enter that field right out of high school or to continue their education in pursuit of other high-paying jobs in the field,” St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools Superintendent Kevin George said. “We are proud to be one of the school districts that saw an opportunity to start young people on a successful career path and to help lead the way for this certification to become a reality not only for our students but for high school students across Louisiana.”
         Currently, there are 1,943 medical assistants employed in the Greater New Orleans region. 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.
         “This certification will help us meet the ever-growing demand for medical assistants at our health care facilities across the state,” said Tracey T. Schiro, senior vice president and chief human resources officer of Ochsner Health System, the largest not-for-profit private employer in Louisiana, which currently employs nearly 700 medical assistants. “Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, and we are pleased that Louisiana high schoolers will now have the opportunity to earn this valuable credential and fill these jobs.”
         “We are projecting a growth in various types of employees who are competent in this industry’s best practices. LCMC Health has a demand for qualified individuals with the medical assistant credential, and we anticipate this need continuing for the foreseeable future,” said Chad Courrege, senior vice president human resources of LCMC Health, which operates five hospitals in the New Orleans area along with numerous clinics and employs over 8,000 staff.
         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.
         “With the addition of the medical assistant certification, we are excited to provide our students with another career opportunity that will allow them to enter the growing health sciences field,” said Nunez Community College Chancellor Dr. Thomas Warner. “We’re preparing the next generation of Louisianans to participate in the state’s economy and work in rewarding careers.”
         The application to the Louisiana Workforce Commission for the industry-based certification was submitted by the Gulf River Parishes Jump Start Team, including Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, and St. John school districts, and Nunez Community College.
         Partners who supported the application include Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Christus Physician Group, Delgado Community College, Franklin Medical Center, Greater New Orleans, Inc., LCMC Health, Louisiana Department of Education, North Louisiana Economic Partnership, Ochsner Health Systems, St. Bernard Parish Hospital, Willis-Knighton Cardiology, Willis-Knighton Health System, and YouthForce NOLA.
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