SCC partners with Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority to fill essential training needs

by Apr 25, 2023NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments

CHEROKEE, N.C. Like many healthcare systems and facilities across the country, the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority has a tremendous need for trained and skilled professionals – particularly Certified Medical Assistants.

To help address that need, Southwestern Community College has partnered with Career Step to provide training for existing employees at Cherokee Indian Hospital.

Sonya Arch is participating in SCC’s Certified Medical Assisting program at Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority. (SCC photo)

“One of the greatest benefits to both the hospital and their employees is that we’re able to offer this training directly on their campus,” said Scott Sutton, SCC’s Dean of Workforce Continuing Education.

The training takes 10 months and prepares participants to become Certified Clinical Medical Assistants (CCMAs) and Certified Medical Administrative Assistants (CMAAs).

Daily tasks are screening patients, case management, providing immunizations, referrals and serving as a liaison between the provider and patients.

Janet Medford, who is the hospital’s Director of Nursing, said the program benefits both the employees and the providers who’ll hire them.

“We are providing this program so that these employees have job-growth opportunities,” Medford said. “There’s a tremendous need for CCMAs and CMAAs among our primary care providers right now. So once these students graduate, they’ll be able to apply for those positions.”

Sonya Arch is a Whittier Resident and certified nursing assistant who has been in the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority’s medical assistant program for seven months.

While working toward her certification, Arch has continued serving the hospital as an orthopedic tech.

“The program itself has been real good. It’s fast-paced. I’m learning a lot, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Arch said. “It gives you a greater knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes. Even though we’re behind the scenes, we get to do the most work with patients. You see them on a daily basis and screen them for the provider. It gets you more in touch with the patients and allows you to get to know them better.

Her husband Jimmy Arch has worked at the hospital for approximately 10 years. He started out in patient registration, then moved to the front desk for the dental clinic and currently works in nursing education – but he never really had a lot of medical experience prior to enrolling in the program.

“I’ve gained a lot of experience here at CIHA working my way up through various departments,” Jimmy Arch said. “This program has been a great opportunity to elevate my knowledge base and continue to make a positive impact in the lives of our patients.”

For more information, contact Latresa Shuler (828) 339-4425 or

  • Southwestern Community College release