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New Medical Assistant Program Offers Students Hands-On Learning Opportunities

CNM Medical Assistant students traveled to White Sands Missile Range to provide first aid to Bataan Memorial Death March Run participants.
New Medical Assistant Program Offers Students Hands-On Learning Opportunities
MA students provided first aid support to the participants of the 2019 Bataan Memorial Death March Run.

Mar 28, 2019

There’s a new program offered through CNM’s School of Health Wellness & Public Safety that’s giving students the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world events.

The Medical Assistant program was developed in 2018 in collaboration with the University of New Mexico to help fulfill the growing need for highly-trained medical assistants in the state.

Nationally, employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 29 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Director of the MA Program, Jill Anderson, says that the role of medical assistants today is becoming exponentially more complex. Medical assistants are learning to be multi-skilled and versatile in many facets of the industry, including medical office organization, patient-care management and health navigation.

“The role of the medical assistant is evolving, and the skills and responsibilities have been raised to a higher level of care that at one time wasn’t expected,” Jill says. “Our students will know how to properly triage patients, work the charting, billing and systems, and become excellent patient navigators.”

Jill and the inaugural cohort of MA students recently traveled to White Sands Missile Range to volunteer their time and skills, providing first aid to the Bataan Memorial Death March Run participants, most of whom are military veterans.

“It was an adventure of a lifetime,” says Jill. “The weather was extreme, sleep was sparse, all we had to eat were the snacks we brought, but my students rose to the challenge and I couldn’t be prouder.”

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The MA students spent 3 days at the event with little to no sleep but they rose to the challenge and prospered.

During the event, CNM’s Medical Assistant students provided the necessary first aid runners needed, including treating blisters and monitoring hydration levels. 

“The experience for me, overall, was astonishing,” says MA student Sierra Montes. “I definitely got out of my comfort zone. I was not sure what to expect at first but once I educated myself with the type of medical care that I would be providing, it became second nature.”

Sierra says that being able to put her learned skills into practice by helping others reinforced her decision to enroll in the Medical Assistant certificate program.

“This unquestionably benefited me with a lot of learning experiences. Having the opportunity to care for these participants in a way that helped them achieve their goal with this marathon was significant,” says Sierra. “I feel honored to be one of the few CNM MA’s that got to help our former and active military members get through this 26-mile marathon.”

The students did such an impressive job at the Bataan Memorial Death March Run that they were invited to provide first aid support at the upcoming UNM Triathlon on April 13-14.

“I am proud to call them my students,” says Jill.

Learn more about CNM’s Medical Assistant Program.

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CNM's MA students will provide first aid services at the upcoming UNM Triathlon.