Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Mon, Aug. 10

Diné College introduces Certified Medical Assistant program

Diné College, named a four-year institution in April, started looking into the possibility in the late 1960s. (Submitted photo)

Diné College, named a four-year institution in April, started looking into the possibility in the late 1960s. (Submitted photo)

TSAILE, Ariz. — Diné College is debuting a new certificate program that is relevant and timely during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

That is the mindset of officials at Diné College as they move ahead with implementing a certified medical assistant (CMA) certificate program — the first of its kind ever offered on the Navajo Nation. An introductory meeting was recently held and a June 30 application deadline is in place.

“Initially, we were planning for 20 students in our first cohort, but due to the coronavirus crises we have reduced that number to half, for our first cohort of the Certified Medical Assistant program starting August 2020,” Shazia Hakim, Ph.D., a Diné College microbiology professor who oversees the program, said. Hakim is part of the CMA student selection and accreditation committees.

“Today, we need these types of courses more than ever to prepare our locally trained workforce so that they can help us fight COVID-19 using our own resources,” she said.

Hakim said applications for the program continue to roll in, adding there is a math entry test that students must take. Hakim, who developed the curriculum for the program, said the major duties of a CMA are hospital environment or medical offices that demand face-to-face contact.

The CMA program is a 37-credit hour certificate course offered at Diné College’s Tuba City campus. Classes take place Saturday and Sunday, followed by a 10-week field externship at the Tuba City Regional Healthcare Corporation (TCRHC).

“Upon graduation, students will be awarded the CMA certificate and we will try to make sure that our graduates participate in exams offered by external bodies like the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), to increase their credibility in the market,” Hakim said.

Hakim said CMA program graduates have a variety of job options available in such places as hospitals, medical offices, laboratories, research and teaching institutes, or students can further their studies in medical assisting at the associate’s or bachelor’s level at a college or university.

Hakim holds a doctoral degree from the University of Karachi in Pakistan. Hakim said Tuba City is the largest community by zip code on the Navajo Nation, and the CMA program is in demand around the Navajo Nation due to the lack of certified medical assistants at healthcare facilities. She said open house participants were mostly from Tuba City, Cameron, Kayenta, Chinle, Flagstaff and Window Rock.

Phyllis Begay, manager at the Tuba City campus, said there is a lot of potential career growth for a CMA.

She said CMA coursework provides the necessary skills for career advancement.

Information provided by Dine College

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