December 19, 2016
Writer: Dale Spaulding
The Medical Assistant Major, one of the associate degrees offered at BYU-Idaho, is in the process of closure, and is not accepting new students. Previously enrolled students will be able to finish their major with an associate degree.
While this may surprise and disappoint some, the closure will affect about 50 students who started to take prerequisites for the major. Though the number of participants, and costs for the major were factors, the biggest factor comes from outside the school.
"Over the last few years, accreditation rules have changed, and we're not in compliance with accreditation," said Van Christman, associate academic vice-president for curriculum at BYU-Idaho. "So, even though students could go through the program, could get an associate's degree, they couldn't sit for the certification test."
Accreditation is the process of fulfilling requirements for a particular major in order for it to be recognized professionally.
In addition to professional recognition, students like Hyrum Dykes need 1,200 working hours in order to successfully graduate. He is part of the group who joined the major before accreditation fell through. "I went to the medical assistance associate's degree with the intention of finding a way that could get me into the work force, get myself more experience to apply for PA [Physician's Assistant] school," he said.
Other students, like Craig Stevenson, barely made it into the program before it was cancelled, "I've already done one semester in it, that would have been horrible to do a semester, and then [for] it to not even count, really," he said. "I guess just reflecting on the last semester, how much I've learned, all the skills I've gained, it just makes me excited, because I won't have a hard time getting a job right after I graduate."
For students still interested in this major, Christman says BYU-Idaho isn't the only place where students can receive their associate degree through schools owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "LDS Business College has a medical assisting program, so there is another one within the Church Educational System," said Christman.
The possibility that the program might return still exists, but there are some hurdles to jump over first. "As we look down the road, that will be up to department and college to look at, and say 'what are the needs,' and 'where are the jobs,' and 'how can we do this, and stay within the parameters as a university?'" said Christman. For questions about the program, call the Department of Health, Recreation and Human Performance at 208-496-4671.