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Medical Assistant graduates building successful, local careers in healthcare

Friday, June 23, 2023

Skilled CMAs are in-demand by employers in northeast Iowa, and two recent graduates of Northeast Iowa Community College’s Medical Assisting program have begun successful local careers.

Jessica and Samantha_medical assistant news photoCertified Medical Assistants (CMAs) are indispensable members of the healthcare team who work alongside physicians and other primary healthcare providers to assist with patients visiting outpatient clinics for their care. CMAs are trained for a wide variety of responsibilities – from handling correspondence, billing, scheduling appointments, obtaining patient’s medical histories, vitals, administering injections and blood draws.

That’s why skilled CMAs are in-demand by employers in northeast Iowa, and two recent graduates of Northeast Iowa Community College’s Medical Assisting program have begun successful local careers.

The graduates, Jessica Helbing and Samantha McDermott, are grateful for NICC and the comprehensive, hands-on approach of the Medical Assistant program. Jessica works at Grand River Medical Group and Samantha is employed at Medical Associates Clinic.

Grand River is an amazing place to work,” Jessica said, who obtained an Associate in Science/Career Option Human Services Specialist degree in December 2002 and graduated from the Medical Assistant program in July 2022. 

“I loved everything about the NICC Medical Assistant program. The instructor, Jennifer Anglin, is absolutely amazing at what she does. You are given all the tools and support needed to become successful. The biggest takeaway of the program is to be confident in your skills and always ask questions. It is so important to always be learning because there is always something new to learn,” she said.

At Grand River, Jessica is currently working in urgent care. Her responsibilities include rooming patients, drawing blood for lab tests, taking vitals, giving injections, assisting with certain procedures and much more.  

Fellow graduate Samantha McDermott, who completed the program in August 2020, enjoys her career at Medical Associates in the Family Medicine department. 

“My regular day consists of talking to patients about their concerns and communicating those concerns to the provider, giving recommendations to the patients from provider, checking vitals like blood pressure/heart rate/respirations/temperature, administering vaccinations, strep/Covid/flu testing, advocating for the patients, medication refills, wound care and even vision screenings. The list goes on and on. Every day is busy!” Samantha said.

The support of NICC faculty and staff made a dramatic impact on her experience in the program, she said. 

“Every single staff member at NICC is very supportive of students and I knew exactly where I stood as a student. The instructors bent over backwards to make sure we got the absolute best education. I enjoyed the clinical training the most; I am a person who learns best while doing,” Samantha said.

Program director and instructor Jennifer Anglin knows that so many NICC program graduates are finding career success with local healthcare providers.

“You will find our Medical Assistant alumni primarily in outpatient clinics such as physician offices, ambulatory care clinics and urgent care centers. Usually the person who takes you back to your appointment from the waiting room at your provider’s office and obtains your vitals – that is a Certified Medical Assistant,” Jennifer said.

The goal of the Medical Assistant program is to prepare graduates who are competent in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills) and affective (behavior) learning domains to enter the profession. Upon successful completion of the program, students are eligible to take the national credentialing exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). For more information, visit