School and Ranking Information
There are roughly 13 schools offering medical assisting programs within 30 miles of San Diego. The following three schools stand out from among these schools based on their proximity, program variety and degree types offered. Many of these programs prepare students to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) national certification exam and the California Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA) examination conducted by the California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants.
- Winner: San Diego Mesa College's (Mesa) allied health department within its school of health sciences and public service offers an Associate in Science degree and Certificate of Achievement (COA) in medical assisting. It takes the top spot due to its location right in San Diego and it awarded the most medical assisting credentials among these schools during the 2011 school year.
- Runner Up #1: Palomar College takes second place for its variety of program offerings and having the highest graduation rate of these three schools. It offers medical assisting degree and certificate programs.
- Runner Up #2: Southwestern College (SWC) is located in nearby Chula Vista. It takes third place for its variety of medical assisting programs; it offers certificate and degree programs in both administrative and clinical medical assisting as well as medical office management.
School Comparison Chart
|Category||San Diego Mesa College||Palomar College||Southwestern College|
|Location||San Diego, CA||San Marcos, CA (12 miles from San Diego city limits, 36 miles from downtown San Diego)||Chula Vista, CA (8 miles from downtown San Diego)|
|School Type||2-year, public||2-year, public||2-year, public|
|Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)||$1,140 (in-state, undergraduate), $5,532 (out-of-state, undergraduate)**||$1,328 (in-state, undergraduate), $5,224 (out-of-state, undergraduate)**||$1,334 (in-state, undergraduate), $6,654 (out-of-state, undergraduate)**|
|Medical/Clinical Assistant Degree Levels Offered||Certificate and associate's degree**||Certificate and associate's degree**||Certificate and associate's degree**|
|Medical/Clinical Assistant Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2011-2012||29**||10**||14**|
|Most Popular Medical/Clinical Assistant Program in 2011-2012||Certificate (23 awarded)**||Certificate (6 awarded)**||Certificate (12 awarded)**|
|Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2008 Entering Class||22%**||26%**||12%**|
|Noteworthy||Mesa is a smoke-free campus||Medical office specialist program one of most comprehensive in support training in North San Diego County||Medical laboratory technician program fully accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences|
Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator
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Winner: San Diego Mesa College
- Diverse student body
- Three-year cohort default rate is 2.7 percentage points lower than the 13.4% national average
- One of the largest and most successful community colleges in California
Mesa College is one of the largest colleges among the schools that comprise the San Diego Community College District and the 110 community colleges statewide. In its school of health sciences and public service, allied health department are 6 technician and assistant offerings covering areas of study including general medicine; dentistry; animal health; health information; physical therapy; and radiology. The COA in medical assisting program, which includes both clinical and administrative training, takes two semesters to complete. Students to graduate have to complete directed clinical practice in a medical facility, and finish 15 courses totaling 28 credits, covering coursework such as: medical office management; patient care and business principles; phlebotomy; human anatomy and physiology; and medical ethics, terminology and diagnostic testing. Completion of the COA's 2 semesters prepares graduates for the certification examinations given by the California Certifying Board of Medical Assistants (CCBMA) and the American Medical Technologists (AMT). To better position themselves in the job market, students can complete the 2-year degree program in medical assisting. 60 units are required, with 30 core medical assisting credits, general education courses, and successful completion of healthcare facility-based directed clinical practice.
Runner-Up #1: Palomar College
- California residents pay only $46 per unit
- Diverse student body
- Palomar offers more than 200 certificate and associate's degree programs
Located in a north suburb not far from San Diego, Palomar through its medical assisting degree and certificate programs specialize in training focused on clinical medical assisting or administrative medical assisting. The school's curriculum content and coursework subjects meet AMT and CCBMA recommendations to match present industry specifications. Further school curriculum recommendations are provided from the school's medical assisting advisory committee, consisting of members of San Diego County's medical society, healthcare providers, and private clinics. Subsequently, graduates of the program are qualified to sit for the RMA and CCMA exams. Administrative Medical Assisting program requirements consist of 24 units, with coursework covering medical terminology and anatomy; medical insurance; and office procedures. The clinical medical assisting program varies slightly, with approximately 30 units and additional coursework on clinical assisting in patient care and diagnostic procedures, as well as supervised clinical experience. Career expectations may include involvement with medical office assistance, out-patient clerking, insurance billing and coding, and medical records and ECG technicians.
Runner-Up #2: Southwestern College
- Only institute of higher education located in southern portion of San Diego County
- For the 2011-2012 school year, 76% of first-time undergraduates received financial aid, according to NCES
- Among highest ranked nationwide to grant associate's degrees to minority students, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine
The associate's in science degree program that is offered by SWC trains graduates to work in the healthcare industry with the necessary skills as administrative medical assistants. The program consists of 40-41.5 credits, including coursework for medical terminology, coding, insurance, and office procedures. The clinical medical assistant program requires 35-38 units, and includes instruction in clinical practices of diagnostic equipment; insurance and coding procedure; immunization procedure; and blood drawing technique. Students interested in the medical office management program need to complete 43-47 credits connected with healthcare industry supervisory and management skills. All programs require additional general education coursework and graduation requirements. There are 13 different certificates of achievement offered, covering basic, intermediate, and more intensive training in various medical assisting and office management fields.