While there are no state-mandated education or experience requirements for medical assistants in Tennessee, students seeking a post-secondary education can find undergraduate programs at several community colleges and technology centers. Technical diploma programs in medical assisting take about one year to complete and may combine lectures with labs and clinical experiences. Associate degree programs in office administration or technology with concentrations in medical administrative assisting or medical assisting are also available.
Graduates of some of these programs may decide to pursue voluntary professional certification, which is often preferred by employers. Certification can be obtained through organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants or American Medical Technologists (AMT) by completing an accredited program and passing an exam. AMT also offers an alternative certification route for applicants with 5-7 years of medical assisting experience.
Additionally, medical administrative assistants can gain certification by taking an exam offered through the National Healthcareer Association. Applicants must have a high school diploma or its GED equivalent, and they need to have completed a relevant training program. The five public schools outlined below offer accredited programs in medical assisting and medical administrative assisting. A comparison table showing program costs and locations is included as well.
Chattanooga State Community College
Located in Chattanooga, this college offers a medical assistant technical diploma program that's accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Students complete 1,290 clock hours, and the curriculum includes classroom assignments and lab courses, as well as a 320-hour medical externship. Graduates can apply credits from this program toward an applied technology associate degree program.
Cleveland State Community College
This college in Cleveland offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Administrative Professional Technology program with a medical office concentration. Students learn medical and administrative duties and take courses in medical terminology, healthcare legal and ethical issues, pharmacology, and computer applications. Four sequential medical assistant courses cover the human body and its systems, patient assessment and education, medication administration, and hematology, among other topics. This program also includes a practicum and is accredited by the CAAHEP.
Southwest Tennessee Community College
Memphis-based Southwest Tennessee Community College features an administrative professional technology associate degree program with a medical office technology concentration that prepares students to work in medical facilities. In addition to taking general office and administrative courses, students complete courses specific to the concentration, such as health records management, coding, medical office procedures, medical transcription, and medical terminology. A clinical practicum is not part of the program. Graduates may qualify for medical administrative assistant certification through the National Healthcareer Association.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Knoxville
Knoxville's Tennessee College of Applied Technology offers a 12-month diploma program that requires students to complete 1,296 clock hours. This CAAHEP-accredited program begins each September and includes a clinical externship. Students take medical and clerical courses; CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training must be completed prior to starting clinical work. The Student Services Department provides students with financial counseling, vocational guidance, and placement assistance.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Shelbyville
This Tennessee College of Applied Technology campus in Shelbyville requires 2,292 hours of study in the school's patient care technician/medical assistant program. The curriculum covers medical terminology, phlebotomy, anatomy and physiology, computer concepts, and nurse aide training. Upon completion of classroom and clinical training, students are expected to pursue nurse aide, patient care technician, and medical assistant certifications. Graduates of this program earn a nurse aide certificate, along with medical assistant and patient care technician diplomas.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Medical Assisting Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*|
|Chattanooga State Community College||2-year, public; midsize city||Medical Assisting Technical Diploma|| $4,063 in-state
|Cleveland State Community College||2-year, public; small city||AAS in Administrative Professional Technology with a Medical Office Concentration|| $4,235 in-state
|Southwest Tennessee Community College||2-year, public; large city||AAS in Administrative Professional Technology with an office technology concentration|| $4,255 in-state
|Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Knoxville||2-year, public; midsize city||Medical Assistant Diploma Program||$4,863|
|Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Shelbyville||2-year, public; distance town||Patient Care Technician/Medical Assistant Diploma Program||$6,405|
*Source: *NCES College Navigator.