Medical Assisting Program
The medical assisting (MA) degree/certificate program is designed to train students to work as a member of an ambulatory health care team, performing a broad range of clinical and administrative tasks under the supervision of a physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. Program space is limited and a special application process is required (see below). Students accepted into the MA degree and certificate programs take the same clinical training and administrative skill coursework. The degree requires additional general education/related instruction courses. Upon graduating from the MA degree or certificate program, students are eligible to take a national board exam to become certified medical assistants with the CMA (AAMA) credential. Additionally, the MA degree and certificate programs are aligned with Washington state laws for MA credentials and scope of practice.
Whatcom Community College’s medical assisting program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) upon the recommendation of the Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB). CAAHEP, 25400 US Highway 19 N, Suite 158, Clearwater, FL 33763, (727) 210-2350.
To increase the opportunity for program success for all students, many of the medical assisting program courses are paired with an optional I-BEST program. I-BEST stands for Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training.
Special application process
Admission to the medical assisting program is by special application. For details about the application process, application materials and deadlines, visit the medical assisting program page on the College’s website or contact entry & advising or the medical assisting program coordinator.
Additional requirements during/after course of study
- Courses must be taken in sequence as assigned in the program schedule. Any deviation from the program schedule must have the written approval of the program coordinator.
- All program courses must be passed with a “C” (2.0) grade or better. If courses are not passed with a C or better, students will be dismissed from the program and advised to reapply the following academic year if they so choose.
- Occupational exposures - The medical assistant may be exposed to various chemicals used in disinfecting and sterilization, laboratory testing reagents, biohazard wastes, blood borne pathogens, and communicable diseases. While in the medical assisting program students have similar occupational exposures. Program students should refer to the Informed Consent for Coursework Requiring Human Subjects document in the medical assisting student handbook for specific information (available to students accepted into the MA program). Safety issues and concerns when dealing with occupational exposures are a major focus within the medical assisting program curriculum.
- Students accepted into the medical assisting degree or certificate programs will need to show documentation that indicates they have begun the required immunization series. Immunizations and tuberculosis screening are required in accordance with CDC recommendations, and OSHA requirements for health care workers. Program students should refer to the Immunization Policy document in the medical assisting student handbook for details.
- Prior to practicum, medical assisting students are required to obtain/maintain provider level CPR certification and the 7-hour HIV/AIDS education certificate.
Students will be dismissed from the medical assisting program for the following reasons:
- Earning an unsatisfactory grade in any medical assisting course.
- Failing to satisfactorily complete any probationary contract in the allotted time.
- Placement on suspension by the College for violations of the Students Rights and Responsibilities policy.
- Dismissal from practicum.
Students who are dismissed from the program will be sent a certified letter indicating the reason for the dismissal. If the student wishes to appeal this action, he/she may do so by following the appropriate student grievance procedure as stated in the college catalog.
A student dismissed from the program may apply to re-enter the program by completing and submitting an “Application for Re-admission” form to the program coordinator at least two quarters prior to the quarter he/she intends to re-enroll. The program coordinator will review the application and inform the student of the outcome of the review no more than ten (10) days after receiving the application. Re-admission is dependent on space availability and whether the student has demonstrated that the problems that led to dismissal have been corrected. The program coordinator may request additional documentation from the student to support the application for re-admission. If the student is re-admitted to the program, he/she must complete the requirements that led to the dismissal before continuing the program sequence.
Any subsequent failure to meet the standards of academic progress will result in automatic dismissal. A student wishing to re-enroll after a second dismissal must apply as a new student to the program and repeat all MA courses.
Visit whatcom.edu/medicalassisting for more information.
Medical Assisting Degrees and Certificates
Medical Assisting Classes
This course provides an introduction to medical word building using root words, suffixes, prefixes, and combining forms.
This is a two-credit course designed as a continuation of Medical Terminology I. It might also be appropriate for those who already have a knowledge base from utilizing oral, aural, and written medical terminology in the workplace. Prerequisite: MA 101.
This course covers legal issues affecting the medical office with an emphasis on prevention of liability using good practices and risk management. It includes legalities of medical records, federal and state health care legislation and regulations, access to patient information, contracts, consent, special populations, confidentiality, and ethical boundaries. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101; Computer Literacy.
This course is designed to increase competency and confidence using computers, hardware, and software. The course will also explore internet use for communication, collaboration, and research. Assignments will introduce and demonstrate medical professional writing and formatting. Students apply medical scenarios to projects demonstrating competency of software programs. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Recommended preparation: MATH 094, Keyboard 20 wpm.
This course focuses on therapeutic and professional communication in the medical office. Students will learn components of effective communication, professional language and techniques, and how to use therapeutic communications strategies working with physicians and the office team. Content includes professionalism, customer service, charting, case presentation, psychosocial theory, and special populations. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
Medical Assistants provide a variety of administrative duties, including telecommunications, scheduling, referrals, patient intake, patient check-in and check-out procedures, opening and closing procedures. Students will practice using Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and office software to perform these tasks with an emphasis on professional communications, documentation, scope of practice, and confidentiality. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
An introduction to practice management. Course work includes daily finance practices, manual and automated systems, professional writing, office planning and procedures, office workflow and staffing, revenue cycle, insurance types, inventory, equipment maintenance, liability and incident reporting. Emphasis on written and computational accuracy, medical insurances, vendors, professionalism, problem-solving, and accounting practices. Required preparation: acceptance into the MA program.
This course covers medical insurance, procedural (CPT), diagnostic (ICD-10, and HCPCS coding. Coding content includes CPT E&M, anesthesia, surgery, laboratory, pathology, radiology, medicine, and modifiers; and ICD-10 coding for body systems, disease, injuries, and neoplasms. Students use software in billing and coding simulations managing patient accounts, insurance claims, and professionalism. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Prerequisite: concurrent enrollment in MA 143. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
This course provides an introduction to medical word building using root words, suffixes, prefixes, and combining forms. Medical terminology is applied to the context of the electronic medical record encounter. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
This medically focused course is an integrated study of the structures, functions, and disease processes of the human body. This course covers anatomy, basic physiology, and pathology of the cardiovascular, respiratory, lymphatic, integumentary, and digestive systems. There will be a focus on nutrition, wellness, prevention and patient education. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Prerequisite: concurrent enrollment in MA 146. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
This medically focused course is an integrated study of the structures, functions, and disease processes of the human body. This course covers anatomy, basic physiology, and pathology of the skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, and hematopoietic systems. There will be a focus on nutrition, wellness, prevention and patient education. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Prerequisite: MA 147 with a minimum grade of C. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
This hands-on course will train students to apply the appropriate protective practices to office safety and office emergencies. There is a focus on scope of practice. Protective practices training will include blood-borne pathogen training, standard precautions, infectious diseases, infection control, disinfecting and sterilization, isolation precautions, post-exposure plans, and basic microbiology. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program, Frist Aid and CPR certificate and seven hour HIV training. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
This is an introduction to the role and scope of practice as a clinical medical assistant. Students participate in scenarios performing clinical duties and working in an inter-professional team. There is a focus on basic rooming and vital signs collection, charting, basic patient interviewing, screening, cardiopulmonary procedures, and allergy testing. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
An introduction to laboratory practices, specimen collection and processing, urinalysis, venipuncture, hematology, urinary catheterization, and CLIA-waived tests. Topics include relevant pathology, normal and abnormal values, computation, charting, and scope of practice. Students practice lab procedures in the context of assisting providers, physician orders, patient education and prep, and protocol. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Prerequisite: MA 152 with a minimum grade of C. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
This course covers skills unique to special populations, specialty offices, surgery, and age and culture specific care. Students practice assisting the providers with exams, procedures, and orders completion. Includes anatomy and pathophysiology of reproductive system and special senses. Emphasis on coordination of services, patient education, time management, and critical thinking. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Prerequisite: MA 153 with a minimum grade of C. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
A basic pharmacology course covering classification of medications, dosage calculation, prescriptions, references, consent, and scope of practice. Competencies include administration of oral and parenteral medications, eye and ear instillation, suppositories, vaccinations, and assisting with implanted devices. Students do critical thinking exercises to address orders coordination, complications, and patient education. Required preparation: admission into the MA Program. Recommended preparation: placement into ENGL& 101.
Medical assistant students are provided practical experience in an ambulatory care setting under the direct supervision of a medical professional. Students will complete 165 hours contact hours. It provides skills practice, discussion, certification exam and job preparation. This course meets the requirements for certification by the State of Washington. Required preparation: completion of all MA core courses with a minimum grade of C.