Training future healthcare professionals |

Training future healthcare professionals

Annie Conway
CCNN Medical Assistant Instructor teaching future healthcare professionals.
Courtesy CCNN |

Career College of Northern Nevada (CCNN) is working to prepare students for jobs in the healthcare industry as more companies continue to settle in northern Nevada.

“The more people that are in the area, the more people that are going to need healthcare,” Bryce Richardson, placement coordinator at Career College of Northern Nevada, said. “With healthcare expansion more people are covered, which means healthcare practices will grow.”

CCNN is preparing future healthcare professionals through their associate degree programs in health information management (HIM) and medical assisting. Both programs require an externship prior to graduation, which allows students to gain work experience before they get a job.

“We hear it all the time, that they (employers) don’t have time to train people,” Richardson said. “Students need to come in (to a job) and add immediate value.”

The medical assistant program is a 16 and a half-month program where students learn front and back office skills such as assisting the doctor with things like phlebotomy, vitals, and other laboratory skills. The HIM program is an 18-month program where students learn administrative skills, billing, medical coding, claims and more.

Prior to the externship, CCNN requires students to perform what is called a skills review. This is six weeks of performing the actual skills they have learned in their courses. If a student fails to demonstrate that they have mastered a skill, they are required to take it over again to ensure they will be able to perform the task in a job setting.

“When it really comes down to it, can they do the job?” Richardson said. “It is fast paced, they run through their codes, they are doing different procedures. You can kind of see who is going to come out of this alive and who is going to be successful.”

Once students complete the skills review, they move on to an externship.

CCNN relies on medical companies in northern Nevada to partner with the college to provide externships for these programs.

“We are grateful that the company is giving that student the opportunity to come on site and host them,” Richardson said. “They do a huge favor to us.”

According to Richardson, CCNN is always working to find new companies to host students for the externship program.

“I love being face to face with employers,” Richardson said. “We love bringing employers down to the campus.”

Some of the local businesses that have provided CCNN students externships include Sierra Mountain Health, Sierra Integrative Medical Center, Advanced Medical Arts, Ford Center for Foot Surgery and Renown Health, to name a few. Some externships turn into job opportunities and the ones that don’t give students work experience.

“We strategically try to place people where we think they can get hired,” Richardson said.

CCNN’s placement team works with each student to help them find a position. They guide them through creating cover letters, resumes, mock interviews and negotiating a salary.

“We are held accountable (to help place students in jobs) by our accreditation standards,” Richardson explained. “We need to do this but we should do it. It is the right thing to do for our students.

“I think that is one of the biggest differentiators for a school like ours.”

While Richardson said the job outlook for these types of jobs in the northern Nevada area is good, the field is not without competition. There are several other schools in Nevada, such as Carrington College, also working to prepare students for these types of healthcare jobs.

CCNN currently serves more than 338 students a year. In addition to their health information management and their medical assistant programs, CCNN offers programs in HVAC, welding and fabrication, a pharmaceutical technician program, information technology and electronic engineering.

The college was originally established in 1984 under the name Apollo Business and Technical School. It was acquired by CareerCom Corporation in 1986 and in 1989 the school was acquired by Career Colleges, Inc., and became Career College of Northern Nevada. CCNN moved from their location on Corporate Boulevard in Reno to their current location at 1421 Pullman Dr. in Sparks in 2009.

For more information about CCNN, visit Businesses interested in participating as an externship site for the health information management program or the medical assisting program, contact Karen Powell at 775-856-2266 or