If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in healthcare, the Alexandria Technical and Community College is a good place to start without having to take on a mountain of debt.

That’s according to new rankings by Healthcare Degree Search, an online resource dedicated to healthcare career and education data.

In the 2021 rankings update, the ATCC achieved high marks in several health-related categories:

  • First out of 35 colleges in Best Value Health/Medical Administration Services Schools in Minnesota. ATCC’s average tuition and fees for an in-state undergraduate at ATCC are $5,565 a year. After completing their Undergraduate Certificate, health and medical administrative services graduates from ATCC carry an average student debt load of $16,005.

  • First out of 55 in Best Value Health/Medical Administration Services Undergraduate Certificate Schools in the Plains States Region.

  • First out of 604 in Best Value Health/Medical Admin Services Undergraduate Certificate Schools.

Healthcare Degree Search's rankings and lists were created to help students and career-changers make decisions about their future.

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The secret to the college’s success

The Echo Press reached out to instructors at Alexandria Technical and Community College for their reaction to the latest healthcare rankings and to find out what is the secret to the college’s success.

“Alexandria College tries hard to accommodate each student and their unique circumstances,” said Greg Latterell, medical coding instructor. “We have a long history of putting the student first.”

Latterell added the college understands the difficulties that students face, not only in their academics, but in their daily lives.

“I can think of no other college that dedicates as much time to getting to know the students. The Medical Administrative Specialist program has more than 90% returning adult learners, from diverse backgrounds.”

The recognition helps with recruitment of students, according to Lindsey Klimek, medical administrative specialist instructor.

“The majority of our students are returning adults – many with full time jobs or busy families,” Klimek said. “Being named the best value program in the nation means students who choose to invest in their futures at Alexandria College, at any age, can feel confident they’re making a good decision.”

Most ATCC students double-major in Medical Administration and Medical Coding, Klimek added.

“If a student takes them individually both are two-year programs, but only a few additional courses are required to get both degrees when completing the Medical Administrative Specialist AAS,” she said.

Healthcare field is growing

The most recent “best value” awards come at an ideal time. Medical administrative specialists are part of the healthcare support industry that is anticipating some of the most new employment growth between now and 2026, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Employment in the northwest part of the state is projected to grow 4.2% by 2026 – a gain of 10,961 new jobs, DEED’s projections say. Healthcare support and healthcare practitioners are among six occupations that are expected to see the most growth.

Jobs for medical records and health information technicians pay an average of $45,171 a year for those with some college or an associate degree, according to DEED.

A tradition of success

The ATCC has a long history of earning recognition and awards. Its graduation and retention rates are among the highest in the state and its tuition is among the lowest in Minnesota.

In 2021, the college was rated first in Minnesota for Best Associate Degree in Nursing by RNCareers.org. Rankings were based on first-time NCLEX-RN pass rates, program accreditation, program cost, and graduation/retention rates.

Other accolades the college received this year:

  • Fourth in the U.S. for Best Medical Coding degrees by Intelligent.com. Rankings were based on curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation, and post-graduate employment. It also ranked within top 50 nationally for Business Administration Associate degrees and Human Services degrees.

  • Eighth in the Plains States Region for Best Business Administration and Management degrees by CourseAdvisor. Rankings were based on student success metrics, post graduation wages, and availability of online/flexible learning options.

  • Fourth in Minnesota for Niche 2021 Best Two-Year College. Rankings were based on student reviews and data from the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Third in the U.S. for Best Paralegal Associate degree by Best Value Schools. Rankings were based on accreditation, tuition rates and program credit hours.

  • Eleventh in the U.S. for Best Associate Degree in Graphic Design by Best Value Schools. Rankings were based on accreditation, tuition rates, and program credit hours.