We train medical assistants to go above and beyond.
To provide educational opportunities that address critical workplace shortages in primary care.
To enable graduates to gain the competencies and knowledge to be eligible to apply for an entry-level position in the medical assisting profession.
Our Origin Story
A chance 2015 conversation with a Lyft driver in San Francisco indirectly contributed to the formation of the National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement – NIMAA – which today educates medical assistants across the U.S.
Mark Masselli, Founder, President and CEO of the Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) based in Middletown, CT, was traveling to the west coast to celebrate the retirement of Tom Bodenheimer, MD, MPH, noted physician and author on many articles on team-based care and the role and value of Medical Assistants.
Mark had been working on an idea on ways to lower the cost of training for Medical Assistants as well as ways to professionalize the career. He knew that Tom might be a source of support and inspiration to this innovative approach to Medical Assistant education. Little did he realize that the Lyft driver who picked him up at the San Francisco airport would be the reminder of why this idea was so important. The driver told him of her excitement of being the first person in her family to enter the health care field as she was recently enrolled in a Medical Assistant school. But there were complications along the journey, as the first school at which she was accepted would have cost her over $30,000, which she simply couldn’t afford. But she found another school that was around $20,000; her entire extended family, who had moved from Mexico when she was 10 years old, agreed to help her cover the cost. It still meant that she needed to work as a driver and help out in the family restaurant.
Mark knew so many private programs were charging $20-30,000 and more, saddling students with exorbitant debt they could not hope to repay. And yet this driver was like so many other Medical Assistants: hard working and looking for ways to start their health careers. This further inspired Mark to find an affordable pathway for people aspiring to a healthcare career, as well as a way to positon the training in medically underserved areas of the country. This concept would provide opportunity for ambitious but under-resourced students, spur workforce development in poor communities, and align with the needs of Federally Qualified Health Centers seeking to hire medical assistants trained to their model.
Mark returned home with this chance encounter and the blessing of Dr. Bodenheimer more energized to build a new model. Buoyed by the support of the Health Center’s Board of Directors, he assembled a team of experts in education and medical assisting.
Mark knew he needed another partner and reached out to one of the best Health Centers in the country, Salud Family Health Centers of Colorado. He called on its two key leaders, Tillman Farley, MD, and CEO John Santistevan, to help build NIMAA with CHC. NIMAA initially tested its model with a cohort of 13 “Pioneer Partner Students” in August 2016. Based on the success of the trial, the program took the next step into the healthcare education marketplace.
A national webinar to publicly launch NIMAA, featuring Dr. Bodenheimer and Ed Wagner, MD, took place on January 30, 2017, with more than 2,000 participants eager to learn about this new concept in medical assistant education.
The first full NIMAA cohort started class in September 2017, and the school has continued to expand across the U.S., with ABHES accreditation, the ability to offer Title IV federal financial aid, more than 50 clinical externship partners, and programs in 16 states and counting. NIMAA’s headquarter office and key staff are based in Denver, Colorado.