Kalispell Regional Healthcare offers medical assistant scholarships

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As an effort to bring more skilled workers to the Flathead Valley during a health-worker shortage, Kalispell Regional Healthcare is offering several scholarships to students who enroll in Flathead Valley Community College’s Medical Assistant program.

The three $10,000 scholarships are open to eligible students enrolling in the program this August.

Laurie O’Leary, a retention manager with Kalispell Regional, said as the Flathead is experiencing a shortage of Certified Medical Assistants, the system’s Physician Network and Human Resource Department created a “win-win” for students and Kalispell Regional Healthcare.

“By offering financial assistance, we are establishing relationships of employment longevity with individuals who otherwise may not have been able to reach their career goal of becoming a Medical Assistant,” O’Leary wrote in an email Monday afternoon.

Graduates of FVCC’s Medical Assistant program receive an Associate of Applied Science degree and are qualified to sit for the national certification exam administered by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants.

The multi-skilled assistants perform administrative and clinical procedures in settings like physician offices, outpatient clinics and group practices.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, national demand for the role is predicted to increase by 23 percent between 2014 and 2024. The annual mean wage for a medical assistant in Montana is $31,910, according to the bureau.

O’Leary said this is the second year the health-care system has offered the scholarships.

She said the organization will continue to look for ways “to create potential for individuals to remain in the Flathead Valley for both their education and employment.” That could include financial assistance, internship opportunities and joint efforts with the community college.

Those interested in applying for the CMA scholarship from Kalispell Regional Healthcare should contact Laurie O’Leary as soon as possible at (406) 752-1706.

FVCC’s fall semester begins Aug. 28, and the deadline to apply for admission is Aug. 18. For more information about the Medical Assistant program and applying for admission to FVCC, visit www.fvcc.edu/medical-assistant or contact Program Director Chris Degenhardt at (406) 756-4582.

Reporter Katheryn Houghton may be reached at 758-4436 or by email at khoughton@dailyinterlake.com.

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