Medical Assisting

 

Program Description
The Medical Assisting program at SUNY Erie is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) upon the recommendation of the Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB), and the evolving landscape of healthcare delivery has increased the demand for competent Certified Medical Assistants. Certified Medical Assistants are versatile allied health professionals who perform the clinical and administrative cognitive objectives, psychomotor competencies and affective behaviors as identified by the CAAHEP Standards and Guidelines for Medical Assisting Educational Programs and the MAERB Core Curriculum Competency Requirements in a variety of healthcare settings in the contemporary healthcare community.

Upon successful program completion, graduates apply to take the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) national certification examination, and graduates passing this Certified Medical Assistant exam may use the credential CMA (AAMA). In addition to being accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the CMA (AAMA) Certification Program is accredited by the International Accreditation Service (IAS), making the CMA (AAMA) Certification Program one of ten (10) healthcare certifications and the only medical assisting certification program with international recognition.  Many graduates of the Medical Assisting AAS Program are employed by their SUNY Erie affiliated ambulatory care site upon completion of this practicum experience, while other students gain employment at various healthcare facilities upon or soon after graduation.

Clinical medical assisting courses are conducted in our simulated on-campus medical assisting skills laboratory classroom, equipped with modern supplies and equipment that mirrors the contemporary healthcare environment to provide instruction, demonstration and competency evaluations that assess student learning.  Although clinical duties may vary by healthcare facility and depending on what is allowed by state laws, instruction ranges from recording medical histories and vital signs to preparing patients for examinations and assisting physicians during patient assessments. Students are also prepared to collect laboratory specimens and perform CLIA-waived hematology, chemistry, urinalysis, immunology and microbiology tests, properly dispose of bio-hazardous material and medical sharps waste, and sterilize medical instruments.  Other clinical skills include phlebotomy and capillary punctures, electrocardiography, spirometry, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic first aid procedures. Medical Assisting students also complete training in Blood Borne Pathogens and Infection Control, Laboratory Safety, and HIPAA and OSHA compliance.

The administrative portion of this program focuses on building a professional vocabulary of medical terminology, and understanding medical law and ethics for healthcare professionals, including healthcare competency, equity, cultural competence and patient navigator concepts.  Additionally, a foundation is built for navigating the MEDENT Electronic Health Record (EHR) Practice Management System to learn the standards and features of an EHR system, appointment scheduling, administrative and financial processes for the medical practice, physician office coding and reimbursement procedures including ICD-10-CM, CPT, HCPCS II, managed care, revenue cycles and remittance advices.

In their final semester of the Medical Assisting AAS degree program at SUNY Erie Community College, students participate in a supervised practicum experience of at least 160 contact hours in an assigned SUNY Erie affiliated healthcare setting, demonstrating the knowledge, skills, and behaviors of the MAERB Core Curriculum Competency Requirements in applying clinical and administrative skills acquired throughout the duration of the Medical Assisting program in a practical setting to bridge the gap between student and allied healthcare professional and provide an opportunity for professional interaction with other members of the healthcare team.

In addition to coursework and externship experiences designed to build clinical and administrative skills specific to medical assisting, the program curricula includes general education core courses in basic communication, English, humanities, mathematics, natural and social science, and equips students with 28 General Education credits, a broad base of information and the necessary skill set to successfully continue their education in a related allied health field and/or apply credits toward another degree.  This includes a pathways transfer program articulation agreement in Allied Health with SUNY Empire State College, whereby graduates of the SUNY Erie Medical Assisting AAS program qualify for direct admission into the Allied Health BS degree program. SUNY Empire also offers a combined baccalaureate/master’s program that provides an accelerated path to a BS in Allied Health and MBA in Healthcare Leadership.

The goal of the Medical Assisting AAS program is to produce graduates who possess the necessary knowledge of contemporary patient-centered healthcare practices and the necessary clinical and administrative skills to be an effective Certified Medical Assistant. Through participation in various classroom, laboratory and externship experiences, students are able to demonstrate competency in program objectives through project-based assessments, competency evaluations, assignments, quizzes, tests and exams that map to required CAAHEP and MAERB standards and requirements, and include variations of questions commonly asked on the national CMA (AAMA) certification exam.

A career in Medical Assisting can provide personal fulfillment and build professional experience while working alongside physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, other medical assistants and various additional allied health professionals to become valued members of the allied healthcare team. Medical Assistants who prefer providing direct patient care may wish to pursue further education in nursing or other patient-facing healthcare careers, while those who prefer the administrative aspects of this field may seek to advance their career in health information management, health informatics and cybersecurity, or healthcare administration.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, the employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 18% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. On average, approximately 104,400 new medical assisting job openings are projected for each of the next ten years to replace workers who transfer to different occupations, exit the labor force and/or retire. Additionally, the growth of the aging population will continue to increase the demand for preventive medical services provided by physicians. As a result, physicians are expected to hire more medical assistants to perform routine clinical and administrative tasks, allowing physicians to see more patients.

 

Program Details

Campus: North

Pre-Admission Recommendations:
Successful completion of developmental English and math, college-level anatomy & physiology with lab, and medical terminology (or proficiency exam)

Admission Criteria

  • high school degree or HSE (High School Equivalency)
  • completion of all developmental English and math courses
  • completion of BI 147 and BI 148 (or equivalent courses) within the past 5 years achieving a minimum grade of C-
  • completion of MA 115 (or proficiency exam) achieving a minimum grade of C
  • minimum college GPA of 2.5 within the last 5 years (if applicable) OR minimum high school average of 85%

Health Science Division Student Health Report Form
The Commission on Accreditation of Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accreditation guidelines require that a procedure be established for determining that the health status of an applicant or student will permit them to meet the essential physical functions and technical standards of the program without posing any public health threat to affiliated communities of interest.

In compliance with this provision, and in addition to the student health form needed for admission to the College retained in the Student Health Office, a separate Health Science Division Student Health Report Form is required of all applicants after acceptance to the program and prior to placement at college sponsored external clinical rotation experiences, including MA 223: MA Practicum Experience. The Health Science Division Student Health Report Form provides evidence of a recent medical examination, demonstrating that matriculating students are in good physical and mental health, capable of completing course requirements and have received the following required screening and immunizations:

  • most recent negative PDD (Purified Protein Derivative) Mantoux test (MUST be within a year)
    * students with a history of positive TB exposure must have a negative chest x-ray within two years
  • COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2) Vaccination (MUST provide vaccine record with BOTH dates for two-dose series or date of single-dose vaccine and proof of booster within 30 days of eligibility)
  • BOTH dates for MMR (Measles (Rubeola), Mumps, Rubella); (or positive titer results)
  • BOTH dates for Varicella Vaccine (Chicken Pox); (or positive titer results)
  • date of most recent Tetanus Vaccine (MUST be within 10 years)
  • most recent Influenza Vaccine (MUST be within a year)
  • all THREE dates for Hepatitis B Vaccine (or positive titer results, or declination form)

All screening and immunization documentation must include the name of whom and address where the vaccine was ordered and/or administered as well as the date of vaccination.

A Health Science Division Student Health Report Form completed in full and signed by a physician or other qualified representative of the physician office must be received by the instructor prior to the first day of class for MA 221. Only after all complete, signed Health Science Division Student Health Report Forms have been received, can placement at affiliated clinical rotation sites be requested or considered. Students who are not in compliance or who submit incomplete or otherwise unacceptable physical exam reports will not be eligible to participate in the Medical Assisting Practicum Experience and will not be eligible for graduation or certification.

Technical Standards
Medical Assistants are patient-facing healthcare professionals, and in addition to presenting to the public in a courteous, pleasant and well-groomed manner to place patients at ease and explain physician instructions, they must also possess the physical and mental standards required to effectively accomplish the skills and behaviors needed to achieve the educational goals of the program.

Duties assigned to medical assistants require a reasonable level of physical strength, manual dexterity and visual acuity in order to successfully perform required competencies. Medical assistants are often called upon to multi-task and may have to handle several responsibilities at once.

In order for students to achieve the essential functions of the Medical Assisting profession, the Medical Assisting student must meet the following technical standards:

Visual Acuity: The Medical Assisting student must be able to read charts and graphs, discriminate colors, read instrument scales, observe microscopic materials and record results.

Speech and Hearing: The Medical Assisting student must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively in order to assess both verbal and non-verbal communication and share information with other members of the health care team.

Observation and Communication: The Medical Assisting student must possess the ability to communicate effectively and read, write and use the English language to communicate detailed information verbally and in writing with individual patients, families, visitors and other members of the healthcare team and complete required medico-legal documentation. Additionally, students must functionally use all senses: vision, touch, hearing, and smell which are essential in assessing patients and maintaining safety.

Sensory/ Motor Functions: The Medical Assisting student must possess the physical strength and stamina necessary to execute the clinical and administrative tasks delegated to medical assistants, such as obtaining and recording vital signs, manipulating instruments and equipment, preparing patients for physician examination, collecting specimens, performing clinical procedures such as phlebotomy or CLIA-waived laboratory tests, transferring patients, and responding to emergency situations.

Psychological Stability: The Medical Assisting student must demonstrate the emotional health required for full utilization of the applicant’s intellectual abilities. The student must be able to handle stress and take appropriate actions when emergency situations arise.

Affective Behaviors: In addition to meeting the safety and technical requirements of the program, Medical Assisting students must also possess emotional stability and flexibility to develop the ability to think critically, exercise sound judgment, function effectively in stressful situations, accept constructive criticism, adapt to change, maintain confidentiality, and demonstrate appropriate behavior toward patients and other members of the healthcare team

Occupational Risks
The occupational risks associated with working as a medical assistant include incidental exposure to blood-borne pathogens and biological hazards, ergonomic hazards from lifting, supporting and moving patients and repetitive tasks, and workplace violence.


An Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree is granted to each student who successfully completes all coursework and the MA practicum experience. Upon graduation from the program, an individual is eligible to apply for the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants) Certification examination.

CMA (AAMA) Certification Examination Outcomes
The Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB) has established > 60% as the passing outcome threshold for the CMA examination. The chart below reflects the AAMA (CMA) Examination outcome results for SUNY Erie graduates from 2016-2020. Each year, from 2016-2020, the CMA Examination Pass Rate for SUNY Erie graduates is above the MAERB threshold. Furthermore, the five-year average CMA Examination pass rate for SUNY Erie graduates is 90% which is well above the 60% MAERB passing outcome threshold.

CMA (AAMA) Examination Participation and Passage Rates

Graduation
Year

Total # Who Took
CMA (AAMA) Exam

Total # Passing
CMA (AAMA) Exam

SUNY Erie
CMA (AAMA) Exam
Passage Rates

2020

9

8

89%

2019

4

4

100%

2018

5

5

100%

2017

13

12

92%

2016

21

18

86%

Total

52

47

90%

Threshold:

60%

Medical Assisting Job Placement Outcomes 
As of 2018, Positive Job Placement rates reflect the number of Medical Assisting graduates employed as a Medical Assistant or in a related field based on Calendar Year of Graduation. The Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB) has established >60% as the job placement outcome threshold for all CAAHEP-accredited Medical Assisting Programs. The chart below reflects the SUNY Erie Medical Assisting Graduate Job Placement Rate for 2020 at 80% and the average positive placement rate over the past three years for SUNY Erie Medical Assisting graduates is 81.82%, both of which exceed the 60% MAERB threshold.

Medical Assisting Job Placement Outcomes

Year of
Graduation

Total Number
of SUNY Erie
MA Graduates

Number of Graduates
Employed as a Medical Assistant
or in a related field

Number of Graduates
continuing education
or enlisted in military

Number of Graduates
with unknown job status

Positive
Placement
Rates

2020

18

15

1

2

88.89%

2019

7

5

1

1

85.71%

2018

8

6

0

2

75%

Total

33

26

2

6

84.85%

Threshold:

60%

 


SUNY Erie Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267-284-5000). The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The curricula of SUNY Erie are approved by the State University of New York (SUNY) and are registered by the New York State Department of Education (NYSED).

The Medical Assisting program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org) upon the recommendation of Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB).

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
9355 - 113th Street North, #7709
Seminole FL 33775-7709
727-210-2350
www.caahep.org

CAAHEP accreditation guidelines require that a procedure be established for determining that the applicants' or students' health will permit them to meet the technical standards of the program. In compliance with this provision, a medical health examination is required of all applicants after acceptance to the program. Medical office affiliates require that this health information be current and on file before students are placed for their medical office practicum experiences.


 

For more information:
B. David Sylvia, MSHA, BBA, CMA (AAMA), North Campus
Room B613D
6205 Main Street
Williamsville, NY 14221
(716)-270-5298