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Workforce Hero: Ian Nelson, certified medical assistant and medical assistant training coordinator, addresses critical staffing needs, one student at a time

Olympic Community of Health’s Workforce Heroes are the inspirational people successfully recruiting, engaging, developing, and retaining staff throughout the region. The stories of these heroes illuminate career pathways across the field of health. This campaign is a result of findings in OCH’s Strengthening the Health-Serving Workforce report.  

Ian is a medical assistant training coordinator and certified medical assistant for North Olympic Healthcare Network (NOHN). He’s also a parent to an “insatiably hungry” two-year-old, plays the drums, and roots for the Seattle Mariners. Among other projects, Ian collaborates with local partners to institute a career pathway that facilitates the recruitment, training, and eventual certification of the next generation of medical assistants in Clallam County. For this effort, OCH is featuring Ian as an Olympic Region Workforce Hero.


As a certified medical assistant (MA), Ian directly assists health care providers by rooming patients, taking vital signs, administering vaccinations and medications, among other duties. As a medical assistant training coordinator, Ian develops training curriculum and standards for current and future medical assistants. The possibility of creating lasting curriculum to help address a critical staffing need in our local communities inspires Ian daily.


“It’s very gratifying to pass along knowledge and to see these students become full-fledged and certified MAs themselves,” Ian said. “Today, my favorite student is actually employed at NOHN and is herself a supervisor of our clinical support staff.”


A career path lit by public service and learning

Prior to working in medicine, Ian worked with United Way of Snohomish County, where he learned how much directly serving community meant to him. Next, he worked in research at the University of Washington where he discovered a love and respect for knowledge. In medicine, Ian found a field that combined both public service and the lifelong pursuit of knowledge and has found deeper career fulfillment.

To the new and future health-serving workforce of the Olympic Peninsula 

On the Olympic Peninsula, Ian and his family have found community, “We also are fortunate to be surrounded by caring people that we enjoy going to work with every day. It’s hard not to love it!” He advocates for interested individuals to explore NOHN job opportunities by visiting the careers page on their website.


For people interested in becoming a medical assistant, Ian recommends looking into Peninsula College. “They care deeply about their students and are serious about turning out high-quality and knowledgeable medical professionals,” Ian said. “They also have open events and opportunities to learn more regularly.”


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