There is a point in the care of each pediatric patient that Brianna Rhode looks forward to more than any other.
“Working in pediatric surgery, it is extremely rewarding to see these children post-procedure,” said Rhode, a medical assistant with St. Luke’s Pediatric General Surgery. “They are so much happier and are thriving now that whatever medical issue they were experiencing is resolved. It’s a great feeling to know you’re working for such amazing surgeons who truly can change these families’ lives.”
Rhode is a graduate of the St. Luke’s Physician Group (SLPG) Medical Assistant Trainee (MAT) Program. The paid, six-week program is a blend of lectures, hands-on learning, online modules and shadowing experiences in SLPG’s outpatient sites designed to teach students the skills needed to be a successful medical assistant in the St. Luke’s network. Class sizes vary, but the maximum capacity is 20 students per cohort. Students receive full-time hours, 40 hours of paid time off and full-time benefits.
Rhode also helps out with Urology for Children and Pediatric Gastroenterology when patients come to St. Luke’s Pediatric Specialty Center.
“The exposure to multiple different practices helped to prepare me the most for the transition,” she said. “Shadowing people who were already working as medical assistants and seeing how they took care of their day-to-day tasks really helped me start to know what to expect as I began applying to different offices.”
External candidates and internal St. Luke’s employees–medical receptionists who want to work as a clinical member of their current practice–are able to participate in the SLPG MAT Program. No medical training or experience is needed prior to starting it.
Program training links the learned skills with real-time application in the SLPG practices. Students are first taught the skills through lectures and hands-on skills in the SIM labs and then given time throughout the six weeks to apply their skills in the outpatient offices.
“The students are exposed to different specialties and primary care offices to give them a well-rounded experience. They are taught the skills they will need to be a successful medical assistant in the St. Luke’s Network,” explained Kristy Evans, Learning and Development Manager, SLPG.
“Students receive both one-on-one training and group training to support the different ways in which individuals learn. They have access to a full-time clinical nursing instructor and all necessary training supplies,” Evans added. “Students have opportunities to make lasting connections in both the classroom with members of their cohort and with other medical assistants who are currently practicing in our outpatient offices.”
The MAT Program’s classroom-based curriculum will include subjects like:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Vital signs and measurements
- Safety and infection control
- Communication and professionalism
- Medical assistant pharmacology
- Medical assistant terminology and abbreviations
- Physical exams
After the program is completed, trainees are validated on their clinical skills and moved into full-time medical assistant positions throughout St. Luke’s University Health Network.
Immediately after completing the SLPG MAT Program, Sharon Newton was hired as a full-time medical assistant in a multi-specialty practice. Not long after being hired in that office, she applied for and was promoted to surgery coordinator for the general surgeon.
“The program gave me the skills and knowledge to properly gather pertinent information from each patient to assist with their care,” said Newton. “It was an ideal opportunity for change and advancement. I am challenged daily, and I feel that my compassion to help is welcomed by our patients.”
On May 1, the SLPG MAT Program started its sixth cohort. Since starting the program in August, SLPG has employed and retained more than 40 new medical assistants from the trainee program.
“My advice to anyone thinking about starting this training is simple: Do it!” Newton said. “You will not be disappointed.”
Note: This local health news is brought to you in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.