Program Spotlight: Medical Assistant

Join one of the fastest-growing, highest-demand careers in Minnesota

The Medical Assistant program at Dakota County Technical College trains students to work alongside physicians in medical offices and clinics. A medical assistant’s expansive cross-training includes duties such as

  • Taking medical histories
  • Preparing patients for procedures
  • Drawing blood
  • Obtaining vital signs
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Collecting lab samples
  • Administering medications

The goal of the Medical Assistant program is preparing you to become an entry-level medical assistant (MA) competent in three essential learning domains:

  • Cognitive (knowledge)
  • Psychomotor (skills)
  • Affective (behavior)

More about the work life of a medical assistant (MA)…

You are a solid candidate for a career as a medical assistant if you:

  • Are looking for a college program with nearly 100 percent job placement
  • Like helping others
  • Have good communication skills
  • Seek a diverse skill set and variety on the job
  • Would like to enter the healthcare workforce right away
  • Are interested in working directly with patients in a clinic setting
  • Want to work daytime hours Monday–Friday

Medical assisting is an exceptionally rewarding career. The MA role promotes versatility not found in many other healthcare professions. With training in three areas of the medical clinic—administrative, clinical, laboratory—MAs demonstrate the flexibility to readily adapt to the ever-changing healthcare system. That adaptability places MAs at the top of the job market. Employers seek out medical assistants to fill the majority of clinical positions thanks to the wealth of practical training and knowledge MAs possess.

The medical assistant career provides excellent job security and a bright outlook. According to Minnesota State CAREERwise Education, this career is currently in very high demand and seeing very high growth compared to other careers. The growth rate is 25.3 percent, which is well above the statewide average.

“We want to educate people that success and fulfillment in the healthcare field are not restricted to doctors and nurses,” Kathleen Paukert said. “Plus, if you’re ready to enter the workforce ASAP, our Medical Assistant program does not have a wait list.”

Fall starts include evening classes…

The Medical Assistant program now offers two August starts: evening cohort and campus cohort. The evening cohort has students completing most of their content online with hands-on skills practice on campus Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The campus cohort has students on campus Monday through Thursday during the day.

Below are four more important aspects of the Medical Assistant program:
  • Accepts Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) students
  • Offers full-time or part-time schedules
  • Students are eligible for a $2,500 Workforce Development Scholarship
  • Allina offers $1,000 scholarships during summer semester to help with practicum tuition

Accreditation and licensing…

The Medical Assistant program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, or CAAHEP, on recommendation of the Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB).

Employment in this field typically requires successful completion of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) Certified Medical Assistant licensing exam.

Faculty perspective…

Kathleen Paukert serves as director of the Medical Assistant program. Kathleen has been a practicing certified medical assistant, CMA (AAMA), since obtaining certification in January 2000. A 1999 alumna of the DCTC Medical Assistant program, she joined the program’s faculty in fall 2010; she took on her role as program director in spring 2019.

Kathleen Paukert

Kathleen is a member of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the Minnesota Society of Medical Assistants (MSMA). She is very active in both professional organizations recruiting and maintaining members, and has held various positions on the MSMA board.

With on-the-job experience in both clinical and hospital settings, Kathleen has worked as a phlebotomist at the Owatonna Hospital laboratory and as a CMA in a variety of medical specialties for Allina Clinic, Park Nicollet Clinic and Apple Valley Medical Center.

“Students are the best part of my role as a medical assistant instructor,” Kathleen said. “I get great satisfaction in knowing I have helped a student learn.”

Regarding her teaching philosophy, Kathleen strives to incorporate her work experiences into her classes. She feels this connection between the classroom and the real-world workforce helps DCTC students be successful.

“I’ve been a medical assistant for twenty years—and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Kathleen said. “Being a medical assistant led me to my current position at DCTC, and it’s so rewarding to educate future MAs.”

Optimal GradReports ranks DCTC Medical Assistant program #4 nationally

“Optimal’s GradReports is the only college ranking product to publish and synthesize the new US Department of Education data from College Scorecard. The report was made public in November 2019 and contains early-career earnings and median debt data that have been gathered nationwide since 2015, as part of an Obama-era initiative. Until now, college ranking services have not been able to give students the full financial cost of a school matched against the potential post-collegiate earnings for specific college majors.”¹

Medical Assistants

Handle administrative and clinical tasks in health care settings.



Median: $19.79/hour
High: $22.96/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $20.21/hour
High: $23.25/hour


In Minnesota, there are 10,010 workers employed in this large career. This career is currently in very high demand. This career is seeing very high growth compared to other careers. The growth rate is 25.3 percent, which is well above the statewide average. There will be a need for about 14,079 new Medical Assistants to meet market demand between 2018–2028. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

Learn more about the Medical Assistant program at DCTC by contacting:

Kathleen Paukert
Medical Assistant Program Director

Erin Lund
Academic and Financial Aid Advisor

¹ Courtesy of Cision PR Web press release: “Optimal Seeks to Mitigate College Debt Crisis by Matching Dollars with Sense”