In Virginia, aspiring medical assistants can apply to undergraduate certificate programs, which could take approximately three semesters to complete. Courses cover health care laws and ethics, medical coding, medical vocabulary, pharmacology, health insurance, and medical office procedures. Both programs detailed in this article include internship components, allowing students to gain practical experience in the field. Applicants may have to pass a health and background screening. Additionally, they may need to be CPR certified.
Eastern Shore Community College
Eastern Shore Community College (ESCC), located in Melfa, has a medical assistant certificate program that prepares students for employment in medical offices, hospitals, and clinics. To earn the required 50 credits, students complete general education courses, such as college composition, pharmacology, and keyboarding, as well as study major-related topics, such as medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, coding, insurance, and administrative procedures. Additionally, students complete coordinated internships to obtain hands-on training in medical settings. Career services at ESCC help students reach career goals through counseling, coaching, and career planning.
Tidewater Community College
Located in Norfolk, Tidewater Community College offers a medical assisting certificate program that can be completed in three semesters. The curriculum includes both clinical and administrative courses, as well as internships in the second and third semesters. Course topics include medical office coding, medical law and ethics, medical office procedures, pharmacology, and diagnostic laboratory procedures. An externship of 320 hours is required for graduation from the program
This program has specific admission requirements, such as proof of physical examination, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification, and a criminal background check. In addition, applicants must have completed prerequisite courses in high school math (two years), high school biology (one year), and high school English (three years). Student services at Tidewater Community College include tutoring, open computer labs, a writing center, counseling, and specialized services.
While Virginia does not require that medical assistants have formal training, most employers do prefer to hire those who have graduated from a medical assisting program. However, some will hire individuals with only a high school diploma and give them on-the-job training. Applicants who have taken high school courses in biology, chemistry, and anatomy could have an advantage.
Additionally, medical assistants do not have to be licensed or certified in Virginia, though potential employers might prefer aspiring medical assistants who have earned certification. Certification can be obtained through agencies such as the American Association of Medical Assistants or American Medical Technologists.
While for-profit schools offer most of the medical assistant programs in Virginia, two public community colleges have programs too. Read on for information about these schools and a comparison of the schools' programs.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Medical Assistant Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*|
|Eastern Shore Community College||Two-year, public; remote rural||Medical Assistant Certificate||$4,800 in-state; $10,728 out-of-state|
|Tidewater Community College||Two-year, public; midsize city||Medical Administrative Assistant Certificate||$5,561 in-state; $11,489 out-of-state|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.