LONGMONT - When patients walk into Rocky Mountain Family Practice in Longmont, they will usually see a person like Ginieva Gonzalez before being examined by the doctor.
"I like the patients," Gonzalez says. "I like having to interact and having somewhat of a personal touch to it." She's a medical assistant for Dr. James Fratwell, the owner of Rocky Mountain Family Practice.
"They do everything from take phone calls to put patients in rooms, do their vital signs," Fratwell says. "Maybe not as glorious as being a registered nurse or a doctor, but they are vital to the function of the office."
The problem, though? There are not enough of them. Fratwell can attest, telling 9NEWS it's been hard for him to find qualified candidates.
Gonzalez says she's aware that people like her are in demand in clinics across Colorado.
"We are part of the face of the business," Gonzalez says.
Kari Williams is the program director for medical office technology for Front Range Community College. On the Boulder County Campus in Longmont, FRCC runs a nationally accredited medical assisting program.
"Our program used to be a year-and-a-half and we have since condensed it because of the industry demand," Williams says.
Also in response to the demand, Front Range Community College will expand its medical assisting program launching it at the Westminster and Fort Collins campuses.
"They are estimating that the demand for medical assisting will increase by about 20-to-23 percent in the next 10 years," Williams says. "They're almost guaranteed a job before they get out of school. They want medical assistants so badly right now."
Front Range currently has around 60 students enrolled in the medical assisting program. The expansion could increase to close to 100 next year across the campuses. The classes on the Westminster and Fort Collins campuses will begin in the fall.
Gonzalez says the timing is good. "Already, I think they are understaffed in quite a few of the bigger places," she says.
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