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Rahm Emanuel’s vision for Chicago could impact the Medical Assistant Profession

Nurse helps treat kid healthMayor Rahm Emanuel has a vision for the future of Chicago. It’s big, it’s bold, and it could be a game-changer in terms of career opportunities for healthcare professionals, including medical assistants.

There’s a movement happening across the country, related to advances in medical technology and medical technology startup companies, which is similar to the tech startup boom that has come to define northern California’s Silicon Valley.

Think about names like Apple, Intel, Cisco, Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, Google, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Buzzfeed, Uber, and countless others—all of them began as startups, and have since shaped the world we live in today.

So, the way Mayor Emanuel sees it, the impending boom in the world of medical technology startups needs a home. And he wants that home to be Chicago.

The term “healthcare technology” refers mainly to companies focused on making advances in technological capabilities that impact everything from patient care to medical records. According to one recent report, healthcare technology could be a $280 billion industry by the year 2021.

In a September 10, 2017 article that appeared in MedCityNews, Emanuel commented on a report by the Health Care Council of Chicago, which presented an array of facts and statistics regarding the healthcare industry in Chicago.

“This report confirms what we have long suspected — Chicago is an unparalleled hub for healthcare innovation,” he said. “Thanks to the ingenuity of our businesses and incubators — like Matter — we have the ability to harness Chicago’s potential in ways we could never imagine before and build a stronger healthcare industry for our entire nation and world.”

And the argument he makes is a strong one.

  • Chicago is home to approximately 26,000 healthcare-related companies and more than 600,000 healthcare-related employees
  • Instead of focusing on one or two specific niches within healthcare, Chicago boasts a robust environment for all corners of the industry, from pharmaceutical companies and health insurance to major medical clinics and care providers
  • In 2016, Chicago’s healthcare-related industry was tagged at more than $69 billion
  • Chicago is already home to more than 140 medical research companies focused on technological innovation and advances
  • Academic institutions like the University of Chicago and Northwestern University have funds and investment programs ranging from $4 million to $25 million

So, what does all of this mean?

If Mayor Emanuel’s vision is realized, it would have a major impact on the work of medical assistants working in and around the city of Chicago.

Unlike nurses who focus entirely on patient care, or medical billing and coding specialists who focus on administrative tasks, medical assistants typically handle both. They spend some of their time taking care of clinical responsibilities, while at other times handling front-office administrative duties.

Here are some of the things medical assistants may find themselves doing in any given day:

  • Answering telephones
  • Recording vital signs
  • Greeting patients
  • Prepping patients for examination
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Assisting the physician during examinations
  • Handling billing and bookkeeping
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients
  • Filling out insurance forms
  • Taking medical histories
  • Updating and filing medical records
  • Arranging for hospital admissions and lab services

So, given the well-rounded nature of the work that medical assistants are responsible for, any advances and technological innovations related to the healthcare industry could realistically impact their daily lives. New technology usually means better efficiency, better treatment options, and streamlined processes.

For anyone thinking of pursuing a career as a medical assistant, this is exciting news. Individuals who typically thrive in the field share some common characteristics, which include good communication, organization, listening, and problem-solving skills. Medical assistants also, of course, need to be willing to embrace technology and be adaptable.

And, it’s important to find the kind of education and training program that will deliver the knowledge and skills it takes to succeed in such a rapidly evolving profession.

Northwestern College’s Medical Assistant Program

Established in 1902, Northwestern College has a rich history of serving students in the greater Chicago area who are looking for a quality education, and training that’s focused and comprehensive. With programs in healthcare and business, Northwestern College offers accredited programs, and is founded on the mission of meeting the distinct needs of each student who walks through its doors.

The Medical Assisting program at Northwestern College is designed to prepare students for entry into careers as medical assistants in any number of different settings. The program’s goals include preparing students to:

  • Communicate effectively with patients, supervisors, support personnel, and other healthcare team members using suitable verbal, nonverbal, and written skills
  • Apply knowledge of basic sciences and medical theory to the application and appropriate knowledge of administrative and clinical medical assisting procedures
  • Apply critical and creative thinking and analytical skills to make sound administrative and clinical judgments to enhance patient care
  • Deliver patient care in a respectful manner that reflects sensitivity to individual differences
  • Earn the (AMT) Registered Medical Assistant credential

The Medical Assisting certificate prepares students to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant credentialing exam administered by the American Medical Technologists.

Classes are conveniently available at Northwestern College’s Oak Lawn campus. And with a variety of course scheduling options, the Medical Assisting program presents an ideal path toward a fulfilling career in healthcare.