Rapid changes in health care delivery have increased the demand for competent medical assistants. Graduates of the Medical Assisting curriculum are prepared for employment in a variety of medical and health care settings. The duties of medical assistants vary from office to office, depending on the location and size of the practice and the practitioner's specialty. In small practices, medical assistants usually do many different kinds of tasks, handling both administrative and clinical duties and reporting directly to an office manager, physician, or other health practitioner. Those in large practices tend to specialize in a particular area, under the supervision of department administrators.
Medical assistants perform administrative tasks which may include updating and filing patients' medical records and filling out insurance forms. They also perform tasks less specific to medical settings, such as answering telephones, greeting patients, handling correspondence, scheduling appointments and handling billing and insurance reimbursement.
Medical assistants also perform clinical duties which may vary according to what is allowed by state law. Some common tasks include taking medical histories and recording vital signs, preparing patients for examinations and assisting physicians during examinations. Medical assistants collect and prepare laboratory specimens and sometimes perform basic laboratory tests on the premises, dispose of contaminated supplies and sterilize medical instruments. They might draw blood, perform electrocardiograms, and change dressings. Medical assistants also may arrange examining room instruments/equipment and purchase/maintain supplies and equipment.
The goal of this program is to produce graduates who possess the necessary knowledge of contemporary medical office practices and the skills to be an efficient medical assistant. Through a series of specialized courses, laboratory work and practicum experience, students acquire the competencies and standards of proficiency which are required for certification by the American Association of Medical Assistants. The program also provides a broad base of information which allows graduates to successfully continue their education in a related medical field.
This curriculum includes a 20.5 credit hour core of liberal arts, social science, and science courses , specifically, courses such as anatomy/physiology, clinical microbiology, psychology, math of dosage, and English. The remainder of the coursework has been designed to build clinical and administrative skills. Lectures help students build a professional vocabulary of medical terminology and teach medical law and ethics for health care professionals, basic medical assisting theory and concepts. College laboratories are well-equipped with modern instrumentation to allow students extensive and varied training in a simulated office setting. Students learn clinical office assisting techniques and clinical diagnostic procedures on campus. Computers are used by the students in these laboratories for patient data recording and for retrieval of patient data. In office management and administration courses, computers are used for the word processing of written communications and for office billing procedures. Courses in medical transcription, medical coding and reimbursement provide additional useful skills. In the final semester, students participate in an off-campus supervised practicum. Each student is assigned to an approved physician's office for additional training for a minimum of 160 clock hours. Students shall not receive pay for the practicum experience. If a student is not in compliance with a requirement of the site, it is not the department's responsibility to re-assign the student.
Upon successful program completion, graduates may apply to take the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) national certification examination. Graduates passing this Certified Medical Assistant examination may use the credential CMA (AAMA).Many graduates of the Medical Assisting Program immediately assume positions as medical assistants in private doctors' offices. Others work in various health care facilities.