Best Degree Programs in Medical Office Assisting - Des Moines, IA

School and Ranking Information

Those interested in studying medical office assisting within 50 miles of Des Moines have around six options to select from. Based on program offerings and tuition rates, the following schools are among the best in the area:

  • Winner: Iowa Central Community College offers a certificate and an associate's degree. It also offers an on-campus housing option and has the second lowest tuition of the three schools covered in this article.
  • Runner-Up #1: Des Moines Area Community College offers a certificate program. It also offers students the option to live on campus, and its tuition is the lowest of this group.
  • Runner-Up #2: Mercy College of Health Sciences offers a certificate program and an associate's program. Its tuition is higher than that of the other schools, but it's also the only school located directly in Des Moines.

School Comparison Chart

Category Iowa Central Community College Des Moines Area Community College Mercy College of Health Sciences
Location Fort Dodge, IA (About 34 miles from Des Moines) Ankeny, IA (About 27 miles from Des Moines) Des Moines, IA
School Type 2-year, public 2-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2013) $4,380 (undergraduate, in-state)
$6,360 (undergraduate, out-of-state)*
$3,990 (undergraduate, in-state)
$7,980 (undergraduate, out-of-state)*
$14,460 (undergraduate)*
Medical Office Assisting Program Levels Offered Certificate and associate's degree Certificate Certificate and associate's degree
Medical Office Assisting Certificates and Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 43* 14* 9*
Most Popular Medical Office Assisting Program (2012) Certificate-Medical/Clinical Assistant* Certificate-Medical/Clinical Assistant* Certificate-Medical/Clinical Assistant*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) 41% (students who began in Fall 2009)* 42% (students who began in Fall 2009)* 50% (students who began in Fall 2006)*
Noteworthy Was established in 1966 due to a mandate to provide higher education to those who resided in a nine-county region** Honored by G.I. Jobs as a military-friendly college** The Sisters of Mercy was founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland in 1831 because of the poverty Catholics suffered. These are the roots of Mercy College of Health Sciences**

Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **Schools' websites.

Winner: Iowa Central Community College

  • On-campus room and board expenses at Iowa Central were $5,650 in 2012-2013 based on studies by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
  • Full-time beginning undergraduate students received an average of $3,357 in grant of scholarship aid

The medical assistant diploma program at Iowa Central Community College takes 11 months to finish. During the curriculum, students will study two semesters of theory and lab along with an eight-week summer practicum. Those who participate in the program will start in the fall and finish up in the summer months. Coursework will cover topics such as lab procedures, medical terminology, office management, health and disease, and interpersonal relations. Once students receive a passing grade in all of the core courses and complete perquisite requirements, they will qualify to take the CMA Certification Exam. From there, students have the option to earn an associate's degree in the field.

The college also offers an associate's in medical assisting as well. Students who completed the diploma program will have to earn 13 credit hours in addition to six elective credit hours. Classes that students can expect to take will involve composition, psychology, and physiology. The culmination of the program will give students the tools to perform entry-level duties in clinical settings.

Runner-Up #1: Des Moines Area Community College

  • Serving over 20,000 students across six campuses, Des Moines Area Community College offers over 130 undergraduate programs
  • At 304 acres, the Ankeny campus offers students on-campus housing and access to nearly two dozen academic buildings

The diploma and associate's degree programs for aspiring medical office specialists are identical for the first three semesters. Students pursuing a diploma do not complete the fourth semester. This shorter option may appeal to students who are eager to secure entry-level positions and who may not be planning to advance their education. The diploma program consists of 48 credit hours of study and includes courses in subjects such as business math, business English, human relations, medical terminology, transcription, word processing, insurance, medical billing, coding and drug terminology.

The medical office specialist degree program can be taken over the course of two years and requires the completion of 64 credit hours. This program builds on the diploma program's curriculum by adding a semester of study that includes concepts like business communication, oral communication, accounting, interpersonal communication and computer applications. A medical secretary internship is required for the successful completion of this program, and students are responsible for securing their own internship site.

Runner-Up #2: Mercy College of Health Sciences

  • NCES reported that the student-faculty ratio at the college was 7:1 in 2012
  • In 2009-2010, $12,963,816 was awarded to students at Mercy through grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs accredits the medical assisting program at Mercy College of Health Sciences. Students who enroll in Mercy's three-semester medical assisting certificate program will learn through ambulatory care experiences, lab coursework, and coursework in the classroom. There will also be radiography skills practices in clinical settings as well. Once students earn their medical assisting certificate, they have the option to attain an associate's in medical assisting degree. This program requires 25 credit hours to complete and includes elements such as imaging, administrative procedures, physiology, clinical practicum, and psychology. Between the diploma program and associate's program, a total of 68 credit hours have to be completed.

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