Medical assistants are allied healthcare workers who perform clinical and administrative tasks. They carry out clinical duties such as direct patient care and preparation, ECG, phlebotomy, and pharmacology while ensuring patient safety and confidentiality. They may also be responsible for administrative tasks like appointment scheduling, managing patient records, bookkeeping, invoicing, and insurance processing.
The first step to becoming a certified medical assistant is to find the right program. The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP) has provided allied healthcare education in Texas for over 35 years. The staff will assist you in developing the skills required to meet today’s healthcare demands and set you on your way to a promising career as a certified medical assistant. Here is a quick overview of CHCP’s 36-week medical assistant certificate program.
What Sets CHCP’s Medical Assistant Certificate Program Apart from the Rest?
CHCP’s Medical Assistant Program lays the groundwork for a successful career as a medical professional. The program offers a fantastic start for an advancing career in healthcare down the line.
According to Bethany Shirley, CHCP’s MA Program Director in Austin, TX, “One of the beautiful things that separates us from some of the other schools in the area is the continuity of the education provided. We offer ongoing learning as opposed to learning in separate modules. At other schools, you may not see that skill again for months. While the program length is similar to other programs, we ensure continuity in the skill training.”
CHCP instructors, she points out, are healthcare professionals who worked in the field and can draw on their experience to guide their teaching. Their passion for teaching and passing these skills to students also set the program apart from other schools.
CHCP is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and prepares students for professional certification at graduation. This is beneficial because although certification is not required to work as a medical assistant in Texas, it is highly desired by many employers.
CHCP offers location flexibility, too. The program is offered online and at campuses throughout Texas, including locations in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, McAllen, three in Houston, and two in San Antonio.
CHCP Provides Hands-On Learning Experiences
When it comes to medical training, hands-on programs offer the most comprehensive learning experience. The CHCP MA program provides a blended option with plenty of hands-on training.
“We teach the proper documentation techniques,” says Shirley in regard to hands-on training, “recording patient intake and history and learning how to obtain accurate vital signs with manual blood pressure is really important and expands the students' training experience.”
What Does the Medical Assistant Program Cover?
The MA program at CHCP takes students beyond the basic medical assisting skills. It covers a range of medical assisting knowledge. That way, if students wish to specialize later in their careers, they have the foundation for it.
“If they wish to look into going into cardiovascular assisting, for example,” says Shirley, “they are trained on 12 lead EKGs. If they're wanting to go into dermatology and work in pre-surgery settings, they can set up sterile fields and do autoclaving and assist with wound repairs. They can do all CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) waived testing, like urinalysis screenings, such as drug testing and HCG testing, strep testing, and the list goes on and on with that.”
She mentions other areas that students can transition into, such as caring for elderly patients by learning how to help others with assisted walking devices—a skill that also translates into working with disabled or injured patients.
Medical Assistant Certification Prep Course
Of course, once you complete your medical assistant studies, the next step is to prepare for a professional certification exam. CHCP offers a course in MA essentials that helps students prepare for their certification exam.
The prep course offers a boot camp style to study and help students focus on testing techniques. They get a manual from the certifying body and take practice tests. They then have a chance to access the tests and refresh where needed.
Shirley goes on to explain, “CHCP pays the first fee. If the students have to retake it, it's a $20 fee.”
Students can retake the test up to two times. If they need additional attempts, they would be required to wait 90 days from the last test, and students would need to pay first-time rate for the exam in full.
A Stackable Program
Initially, students at CHCP are encouraged to focus on the basics of medical assisting and pass the certification exam. Then if they want to accelerate their careers, they can go on to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to build on and specialize their skills.
Credits are stackable within CHCP, meaning that every credit you earn at CHCP can be applied toward an advanced CHCP degree. The Associate of Applied Science degree programs offered include Coding and Revenue Cycle Management, Health and Medical Administrative Services and Health Care Management.
After graduating from the medical assistant program and earning your professional credential, you can earn a degree in as little as eight months. Classes are flexible to allow you to work as a medical assistant while you complete the program.
Why Continue Your Education?
Some medical assistants will return to school to obtain their coding qualifications to increase their salary or gain an understanding of what it takes to manage the business as well. Being able to have a medical coding background as a medical assistant can potentially boost salaries and be the next step toward pursuing career opportunities as an office manager.
Externships and CHCP Support
CHCP partners with different health care providers and organizations to help medical assistant students practice their skills in a real world setting during externship.
Students are also allowed to find their own externship site. CHCP will support that choice, but it first will be necessary to evaluate the site to ensure that it meets the externship program requirements. It is also not uncommon for students to seek employment at the place they complete their externships.
Why Choose CHCP?
The Medical Assisting Program at CHCP offers many benefits for students looking to start or expand their careers such as:
Job Placement Assistance
CHCP has a dedicated team of career services professionals whose job is to assist graduating students with finding employment in the field. Ideally, they will get an employment offer at the externship site if that is what they want, and if the employer has a job opening and thinks they are a good fit for their organization.
Continuing Education Opportunities at CHCP
Some may consider a role as a medical assistant a stepping stone in their healthcare career. It can be a good starting point for students. Medical assistant graduates can advance their education at CHCP and enroll in an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree programs, such as the Health and Medical Administrative Services AAS completion program (HMAS) and/or the Health Care Management AAS program. Both are delivered fully online, so one can work and continue their education at CHCP.
Find out more about the Medical Assistant Program at The College of Health Care Professions or fill out our contact form.