How to Find Medical Assistants During Staffing Shortages

Posted by Michelle Ecker on April 29, 2021

The demand for trained medical assistants was already high, and steadily growing, before the COVID-19 pandemic had even reached the United States. In the aftermath of 2020’s blow to the bandwidth of the healthcare system, leaders are now faced with additional challenges when it comes to recruiting and hiring within their struggling healthcare organizations.

To shed light on the sheer number of roles healthcare leaders are struggling to fill, the average job growth rate across all industries is considered somewhere between 5 and 8%, and growth rate of between 9-13% is typically described as “faster than average.” In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic had even reached the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was already reporting a staggering 19% predicted job growth rate for medical assistants - with 725,200 Americans already working as medical assistants at that time.

Today, over a year into the nation’s ongoing battle against the spread of COVID-19, with over 211 million vaccines already distributed and counting, the need for medical assistants is perhaps more pronounced than ever before. For those within the healthcare industry facing mounting talent, recruitment, and hiring challenges, now, more than ever, is the time to examine practical solutions.

medical assistant looking down.

Addressing a shortage of workers in the healthcare industry

To dig deeper in understanding and addressing talent and recruitment gaps within the healthcare industry, the AMN Leadership Solution group recently conducted an analysis, titled the
"2021 Healthcare Trends Survey Report.

The report polled 551 health care executives throughout the timeframe of November - December 2020. The topics of discussion in the survey spanned 4 talent management pillars, including leadership development, engagement, retention, and recruitment, with current and long-standing health industry concerns addressed as well.

The findings seemed to point to 3 main barriers, which have since been flagged as the most potentially disruptive issues facing hospitals and health systems in the next 3 years: burnout, disengagement, and a shortage of healthcare professionals - with up to 82% of survey respondents sharing feelings of concern regarding hiring and talent retention.

It’s understandable that over a year into battling a deadly pandemic, healthcare staff are feeling burnt out and disengaged. A burnt-out existing workforce combined with ongoing issues, recruiting and hiring new staff presents leaders with a growing talent gap that needs urgent addressing.

Providing solutions to a talent shortage in the healthcare industry

The reality is that the healthcare industry is in need of more medical assistants today, but traditional training programs can take over a year to complete, and that’s not including the time it might take a learner to prepare for, and sit for, any required industry certification exams necessary.

A practical solution? Accelerated, online training that prepares and provides the industry with a new wave of trained medical assistants, ready to start working and step into much-needed roles in as little as six to nine months (pending individual state requirements).

Penn Foster offers healthcare partners an accelerated, online Medical Assistant Career Diploma Program, meant to provide a streamlined pathway to certification and employment to medical assistants at scale. Through this practical program, students not only study the necessary skills to take on a medical assistant role, they complete a hands-on externship, and specifically prepare to sit for one of the four following standard industry certifications:
  • The Registered Medical Assistant certification (RMA) offered by American Medical Technologists (AMT)
  • The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant certificate (CCMA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
  • The National Certified Medical Assistant certificate (NCMA) offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
  • The Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC) offered by American Medical Certification Association (AMCA)

Learn more about Penn Foster’s medical training solutions

If your organization is currently facing hiring and training challenges among your medical assistant staff, consider connecting with an expert at Penn Foster to explore how our pragmatic, results- driven solutions could work for you. Help new hires build essential skills or support your existing employees by providing them the training needed to upskill and earn industry credentials by connecting them with online learning opportunities. To find out more about how healthcare training programs can make a difference for your facility, contact a Penn Foster training expert today.