Just over one year since North Central Michigan College launched its expedited Fast Track career programming, 44 medical professionals have entered the local workforce by way of Fast Track courses — all while achieving a 94% pass rate on the national certification exam.

Thirty students have completed the medical assistant program and 14 have completed the phlebotomy technician program since May 2022. An additional 23 students are currently enrolled in summer Medical Assistant and Phlebotomy courses.

Program graduates are helping meet a critical local demand, according to NCMC Dean of Corporate and Community Education Christy Lyons.

“Area health care hiring managers cited a need for skilled employees with very specific certifications,” Lyons said. “Our close connection with regional employers allowed us to be nimble with our programming and responsive to workforce needs.”

The Fast Track Healthcare Bundle program prepares graduates with three credentials endorsed by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), including Clinical Medical Assistant, EKG Technician and Phlebotomy Technician. North Central also offers standalone courses for EKG Technician certification and Phlebotomy Technician certification.

The 24-week bundled program is administered primarily online and includes three in-person skills days, a weeklong phlebotomy lab, and a two-week externship in a local medical office. The combination of online and hands-on training has earned North Central’s Fast Track medical assistant graduates a 94% pass rate on the NHA Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam, well above the state average of 62%.

“These programs are ideal for our returning learners who want an expedited path to a specialized career,” Lyons said. “Because the programs are primarily online, students have easy, convenient access to course content, allowing them to work around their work and family schedules.”

Students enrolled in Fast Track programs gain exclusive access to Michigan Learning and Education Advancement Program grants, which cover partial or full course tuition. Additional financial support available through the NCMC Foundation means that some students qualify to complete their Fast Track program free of charge.

Fast Track students also have direct access to local instructors and assistance with job placement upon completion, Lyons said.

The regional median base salary for a certified medical assistant is $40,043, according to data from ZipRecruiter and Indeed. The average base salary for a certified phlebotomy technician is $36,874. For context, the U.S. Census Bureau cites the median household income in Emmet County as $63,488 in 2021, the most recent year for which there is data.

North Central Michigan College offers a variety of Fast Track programs in areas including manufacturing, skilled trades, business, and health care. For a list of Fast Track programs, visit www.ncmich.edu/fast-track.