Colleges with Clinical Assistant Programs: How to Choose

Clinical assistants can receive training through diploma, certificate and associate degree programs in medical assisting. These programs are mostly located at community colleges and technical institutes through their health sciences and allied health departments.

Postsecondary education may not be required for employment as a clinical assistant, but completion of a diploma, certificate or associate degree program can demonstrate a level of training preferred by most employers. Programs are most commonly available at two-year community colleges and technical schools.

Schools with Medical Assistant Programs

These schools offer undergraduate programs for aspiring clinical/medical assistants:

College/University Location Institution Type Program Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Portland Community College Portland, OR 2-year, Public Certificate $3,766 in-state, $8,374 out-of-state
Saddleback College Mission Viejo, CA 2-year, Public Certificate $1,326 in-state, $5,750 out-of-state
San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA 4-year, Public Certificate $6,476 in-state, $17,636 out-of-state
Whatcom Community College Bellingham, WA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $4,311 in-state, $9,727 out-of-state
Greenfield Community College Greenfield, MA 2-year, Public Certificate $5,210 in-state, $11,330 out-of-state
Montgomery County Community College Blue Bell, PA 2-year, Public Certificate $4,920 in-district, $9,240 in-state, $13,560 out-of-state
North Seattle College Seattle, WA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $4,458 in-state, $9,693 out-of-state
Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI 2-year, Public Certificate $4,373 in-state, $6,299 out-of-state
Manchester Community College Manchester, NH 2-year, Public Certificate $6,880 in-state, $15,040 out-of-state
Cuyahoga Community College Cleveland, OH 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $3,136 in-district, $3,953 in-state, $7,648 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Important considerations to keep in mind when choosing a clinical assistant school include:

  • Students may want to look for programs that prepare graduates specifically for the Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA) exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants.
  • Students may want to find out where clinical internships are available in order to ensure that they will get experience in a setting where they would consider practicing in the future. For instance, students may want to direct their training toward working with dermatologists, chiropractors, ophthalmologists or podiatrists, among others.
  • Distance education opportunities might appeal to students with personal or professional scheduling obligations or students who live too far from a prospective school. However, online programs may require students to seek out their own training facilities and supervisor.
  • It can be helpful to find out about the school's laboratory training facilities, in order to ensure that students gain experience with industry-standard medical technologies and equipment.

Medical Assistant Diploma and Certificate Programs

Certificate and diploma programs can usually be completed in 2-3 semesters and may qualify students for employment and certification in the field. Clinical practicums and internships are commonly included in the curriculum. Students build their skills in office administration procedures and patient care techniques, such as drawing blood and taking vital signs.

Associate Degree for Medical Assistant

Associate degree programs in medical assistance cover the same essential biomedical and office-related topics as certificate programs, but students must also fulfill general education requirements. Therefore, they usually take two years of full-time study to complete. At some schools, students may be able to apply the credits they earn toward a bachelor's degree in the future.

Aspiring clinical/medical assistants can gain relevant education through a certificate, diploma or associate's degree program. When choosing between undergraduate medical assistant programs, it is important to consider school facilities and scheduling options.

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