Northwell, Nassau Community College trains physician assistants

Those who aspire to a career in health care don’t have to decide whether to go back to school or find a job.

In a new one-year program created by Northwell Health and Nassau Community College, students can earn scholarships and work while they train for jobs as physician assistants in outpatient care facilities.

The Earn & Learn Physician Assistant program includes funding from Northwell and Nassau Community College to earn a Physician Assistant certificate in college while working in the healthcare system.

The New Hyde Park-based health system will pay tuition and fees of about $10,000 per person, and the Nassau Community College Foundation will cover book costs for the first year of the program, which begins in January.

Physician assistants provide patient care under the direct supervision of a physician or nurse. The full-time salary ranges from about $34,800 to $51,950, Northwell said.

Across New York state, medical assistants earned an average hourly wage of $20.24, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The number of medical assistant jobs nationwide is expected to grow 16% by 2031, much faster than the 5% rate for all occupations, the bureau reported.

The program is open to eligible Northwell employees and other applicants. Students will work as medical associates at Northwell four days a week. They will attend classes on Fridays, two evenings a week and on Saturdays. The program also offers study sessions, mentors, team building, and a clinical internship after graduation. Those who successfully complete the program will be promoted to a Certified Physician Assistant position and commit to working at Northwell in that role for at least one year, Northwell said.

“Physician assistants are key members of the healthcare team in doctors’ offices and other ambulatory medical settings – they are often the first clinical staff members patients encounter,” said Kathleen Donovan, regional resource manager. Northwell Human Resources in Ambulatory Services, in a statement.

Courses include administrative and clinical documentation, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, CPR and basic resuscitation training, and medical coding.

Nassau Community College “is pleased to match the critical needs of our medical partners with the educational aspirations of people in our communities,” Maria Conzatti, the college’s acting president, said in a statement.

Samara Robb, 30, joined the Northwell staff as a physician assistant in 2016, and she now works as an associate patient account representative in the system while earning a bachelor’s degree in leadership in healthcare administration at Capella University. Her long-term goal is to become a director overseeing multiple practices at Northwell, she said.

“I’m so grateful that I made the decision to go this route,” the Elmont resident said. “If you’re interested in healthcare and aren’t sure which direction you’d like to go, I see [working as a] medical assistant as a stepping stone…so you can see the different paths healthcare has to offer.

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