With diploma programs hard to find in Texas, medical assisting is more commonly found at the certificate and associate degree levels. There are various types of certificates, and depending on the program, they require students to complete 16-51 credit hours. Some certificate programs focus on basic or administrative duties, while others concentrate on clinical studies. Some programs integrate a practical experience, for which students typically need to purchase liability insurance. Additionally, applicants to a medical assisting program might need to complete certain prerequisite courses and take a placement test. They may also need to pass a background and drug screening as well as possess CPR and first aid certification.
This college in Cisco offers four options, including three certificate programs and a degree program, that lead to becoming a medical assistant. While each program features its own particular coursework requirements, common courses among all four programs include medical terminology, medical ethics and law, and lifespan growth and development. Students can earn a Level 1 Administrative Certificate or Level 1 Clinical Certificate, but earning the Level 2 Certificate or Associate in Applied Science leads to taking the certification exam administered by AAMA. Associate degree applicants must take the Accuplacer test.
El Centro College
Located in Dallas, and part of the Dallas County Community College District, El Centro College offers a 12-month medical assisting program that awards a Certificate of Completion. Program admission requirements include prior acceptance by the college, an information session, completion of two prerequisite courses, and a math assessment test. This competitive program only admits 20-30 students every fall and spring. Students complete 39 credit hours in such courses as anatomy and physiology, medical insurance, pharmacology, and health data. The program ends with a capstone experience.
El Paso Community College
This college in El Paso has a 44-credit-hour certificate program in medical assisting technology that can be completed in three semesters. Candidates must pass a background check and have CPR and first aid certification. Students complete courses in medical insurance, pharmacology, medical law and ethics, human disease and pathophysiology, electrocardiography, and administrative procedures. During the final semester, students take a course to help prepare them for taking a certification exam and complete two supervised clinical experiences in real work settings. The college also offers an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting Technology program that includes general education courses.
Houston Community College
Through the Coleman College for Health Sciences at this community college in Houston, aspiring medical assistants can pursue a 43-semester-hour Certificate of Completion program. Students develop skills in electrocardiography, stress testing, Holter monitor and scanning, phlebotomy, dysrhythmia analysis, and pharmacology. They also learn to give medications and perform medical coding for insurance. Students do clinical training at local medical settings.
Students must take and pass the national Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam that's administered at various times throughout the year. Applicants may enter the program in the fall or spring semesters. Prior to starting the program's clinical portion, students must earn CPR Level C certification cards, undergo drug screenings and background checks, submit proof of immunizations and physical examinations, pay liability insurance fees and attend a clinical orientation session.
Laredo Community College
Aspiring medical assistants at this college in Laredo can earn a Medical Assistant Basic Certificate after one semester. Those who go on to complete a second semester and summer session earn a Medical Assistant Clinical Certificate. The basic certificate program includes courses in medical terminology, administrative procedures, anatomy and physiology, interpersonal communication skills, and computer applications. Students who go on to earn the clinical certificate take additional courses in pharmacology, medical law and ethics, lab procedures, and basic health professional skills. Students also complete a clinical experience.
Students who commit to the two-year program earn an Associate of Applied Science. Besides the certificate courses and two clinical experiences, coursework includes topics such as coding and classification, medical insurance, health data content and structure, human disease, and nutrition.
Lone Star College System
Based in The Woodlands, the Lone Star College System offers a medical assisting certificate program at the CyFair campus in Cypress and the North Harris campus in Houston. The three-semester program involves 39 credit hours; it provides classroom and clinical opportunities to learn administrative and clinical skills used in private and public healthcare settings. Subjects of study include medical terminology, medical assistant laboratory procedures, medical insurance, and pharmacology. During the final semester, students complete a clinical externship and prepare to take the AAMA certification exam. Graduates of this program may start work as medical assistants or apply their credits towards an associate degree program.
McLennan Community College
Students in the certified medical assistant associate degree program at Waco-based McLennan Community College are prepared to gain CMA certification. Students in this two-year program learn the administrative and clinical responsibilities of being a medical assistant. The curriculum combines classroom instruction, hands-on lab training, and clinical experiences. This program includes two summer sessions, during which students complete two 10-week clinical internships. A review course is also included to help prepare students for the CMA exam.
San Antonio College
This college in San Antonio had the first accredited medical assistant program in the United States in 1969; today the college offers a certificate and an associate degree program in this field. Students learn about computerized scheduling and billing, electronic medical records, medication injections, pulmonary function tests, EKGs, urinary catheterization, and patient assessment. The 51-credit level II certificate program consists of five semesters, while the 67-credit associate degree option lasts six semesters. Both programs require a 240-hour practicum in a physician's office.
San Jacinto Community College
Located in Pasadena, San Jacinto Community College offers a 39-credit medical assisting program that can be completed in one year. The program provides training for performing administrative and clinical duties in a medical office. A summer session is included, and students complete a work-based clinical course and take a certification exam preparatory course.
South Texas College
McAllen's South Texas College offers two certificate programs and an associate degree program for aspiring medical assistants at the Nursing and Allied Health campus. Students complete 16 hours to earn the medical specialist certificate, while the certificate program in medical assistant technology requires 41 credit hours. The Associate of Applied Science program requires 61-63 credit hours. Course topics for all three programs include medical terminology, medical ethics and law, medical insurance, and administrative procedures. Students complete didactic (lecture/lab) courses and clinical education. Applicants to this program must have passing scores on reading, math, and English placement tests.
To become a medical assistant (MA), an individual usually completes a formal training program, although some MAs are hired with only a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training. Medical assistants do not need to be licensed, but many employers prefer to hire certified medical assistants. Voluntary certification can be obtained by passing an exam. Certification is available through agencies such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), American Medical Technologists (AMT), or National Healthcare Association. Only the AAMA requires graduation from a program accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Medical Assistant Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*|
|Cisco College||Two-year, public; fringe rural|| Medical Assisting Level 1 Administrative Certificate, Level 1 Clinical Certificate, or Level 2 Certificate,
Associate in Applied Science in Medical Assisting
| $3,810 in-district
|El Centro College||Two-year, public; large city||Medical Assisting Certificate of Completion|| $1,770 in-district
|El Paso Community College||Two-year, public; large city|| Medical Assisting Certificate of Completion,
Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting Technology
|$3,010 in-state; $4,858 out-of-state|
|Houston Community College||Two-year, public; large city||Medical Assistant Certificate of Completion|| $1,632 in-district
|Laredo Community College||Two-year, public; midsize city|| Medical Assistant Basic Certificate,
Medical Assistant Clinical Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assistant
| $3,300 in-district
|Lone Star College System||Two-year, public; small city||Medical Assisting Certificate|| $1,600 in-district
|McLennan Community College||Two-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Applied Science in Certified Medical Assistant|| $3,450 in-district
|San Antonio College||Two-year, public; large city|| Medical Assisting Level II Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting
| $2,820 in-district
|San Jacinto Community College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Medical Assistant Certificate of Technology|| $1,548 in-district
|South Texas College||Four-year, primarily associate degrees, public; midsize city|| Medical Office Specialist Certificate,
Medical Assistant Technology Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assistant Technology
| $3,780 in-district
Source: *NCES College Navigator