Getting a proper education involves selecting the right accredited medical assistant program. The process of narrowing down the list of schools or programs can be really hard as well as challenging. Factors like course and training depend entirely on the program you choose.
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The cost and duration of a medical assistant program depend on the program you are willing to choose. The medical assistant diploma and certificate programs can be completed within 8 to 12 months. Depending on the length of the program, these short term courses can cost you between $4,000 and $12,000 if you are enrolling in a public community college, and can go up to $14,000 if you choose a private college.
On the other hand, an associate degree can be completed within 2 years and can cost you around $7,000 and $20,000. Some colleges have different fee structures for in-state, out-state and international students. Medical assistants in VA are allowed to receive on the job training just to prepare them for working under professionals or take the certification examinations. These clinical externships are usually part of the curriculum and can be completed within the program duration.
It’s not only the degree, but where they go to school will significantly make a change. The name on your resume can give you a leg up on other candidates. There is a promising opportunity for career advancement beyond medical assistance. Look at the factors such as the availability of your preferred program, academic records, length of the MA program offered by the school, entry scores, admission rates, job opportunities, and your willingness to join the program while you are making a decision.
When it comes to selecting a school, we all have unique needs based on our ambitions. To help you choose the right school, we’ve put together a list of 8 schools in Virginia for you to consider the programs with open curricula.
Eastern Virginia Career College is a student-centric institution, which is focused on providing students with the best education and training. EVCC offers a 36-credit hour medical assisting diploma that includes both daytime and evening batches. The day program can be completed within 30 weeks, while the evening program can be completed within 32 weeks. The course consists of 435 hours of theoretical education, along with 210 hours of practicum externship training. In total, the program can be completed in 735 contact hours.
The employment rate of the college for cohort 2018 was 71%, and the cumulative graduate employment rate for the past 5 years was an impressive 87.2%. The college offers both day and evening classes that can be completed within 30 and 32 weeks, respectively.
Graduates of this diploma program can take up the certification exam by NHA (National Healthcare Association) at the end of their coursework. The college fee only covers the cost of tuition, books, application, testing, technology, and facilities. Other expenses such as uniforms, 2 GB flash drive, immunizations, and additional costs of supplies are to be borne by the students.
|Number of Courses||Diploma|
ESCC is a part of the Virginia Community College System. Eastern Shore Community College offers a certificate program for medical assistants. The course can be completed within a year. The college accepts only 20 students annually. Students must earn and maintain a grade C or higher and an average grading score of 2.0, at least, to stay in the program and graduate. Upon graduating, the students will be eligible to take up the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)’s NCMA examination.
The module demands a total of 50 credits. The credits are divided into general and basic education. The curriculum includes two apprenticeships, one in part and two on completion of the course. Candidates have to complete the program within 3 years to be eligible for national certification. The college has a selective admission procedure, and the aspirants must apply for the program by May 1 to be considered. Students must also submit their transcripts as well by the same application deadline.
|Number of Courses||Certificate|
With campuses located all around Virginia, ECPI University offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree and a diploma program for medical assistants. The diploma can be completed in less than a year, and the AAS degree program can be completed within 15 months through the Medical Career Institute (MCI).
Graduates of this program will be eligible to apply for the following certifications – Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) certification, Certified EKG Technician (CET), Certified Billing and Coding Specialists (CMAA), and Certified Electronic Health Record Specialist (CEHRS). The employment rates of ECPI’s Virginia campuses for the year 2018-19 as reported by ABHES are as follows: Roanoke: 71%, Virginia Beach: 91%, Newport News: 84%, Richmond (Emerywood): 88%, Richmond (Moorefield): 76%, and Northern Virginia: 71%.
The medical assistant diploma completes the fulfillment of 28 credits, of which 4 are the credits of the clinical externship program. On the other hand, the corresponding undergraduate degree has 34 basic credits, 21 credits in arts and science subjects, and another 6 credits in computer science and skills courses, making it coursework of 1,170 contact hours. The other 6 combined credits offer training in both medical and administrative professions.
|Number of Courses||Diploma, Associate's Degree|
|Campus||Newport News, VA / Northern Virginia, VA / Richmond, VA / Roanoke, VA / Virginia Beach, VA|
Chester Career College is a private institute that offers an AAS degree for medical assistants. The degree program can take up to 2 years. The college has an open admission system. At CCC, uniforms, immunizations, watch with a second hand, minimum 2 GB flash drive, and other additional supplies are all responsibilities of a student, including submitting papers with a negative drug test result. The across-the-board education course mainly aims to improve communication skills.
The course framework contains the experience of two apprenticeships that will be performed under the guidance of a mentor at a local health facility. Upon the end, you will be able to take the National College Competency Test (NCCT) and National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) exams.
In the case of credit transfer, the college will only accept 25% of it from the previous institution with the approval of directors. A candidate’s credits will only be considered if he earns a grade C or better. The request to transfer credits should be made 5 weeks before the enrollment.
|Number of Courses||Associate's Degree|
The American National University offers a certificate program and an associate degree. The 48 credits certificate program consists of 4 terms and 12 courses and can be completed within 10 months. Similarly, the associate degree includes 4 terms and 12 courses and can take up to 20 months. The students require a total of 96 credits to graduate. A 160-hour long clinical externship is also provided by the college for a better real-world/practical experience.
The programs have day and evening, both class formats for giving flexibility to the working students. Due to the small classroom size, every student receives personal attention. Their career service department helps the graduates with resume, interview tips, and job search. The college also claims to extend its support even after graduation by providing its former students access to career services feature and refresher course under their special alumni program.
The university is also known for its collaborative culture that allows candidates to grow continuously towards the betterment of society. According to the 2017 cohort statistics, the exam pass rate of ANU’s Roanoke Valley campus was 66.7%.
|Number of Courses||Certificate, Associate's Degree|
Bryant & Stratton College provides students with the flexibility to choose between campus and online study with a Medical Office Assistant Diploma and an Associate of Applied Science degree. While a diploma may be completed online, the degree only matches the compass format. If you are tending to pursue a career in the front office duties, then a diploma will work best for you. However, if you are serious about gaining the full potential of that degree, it should serve you well.
The major credit requirement for the diploma program is 24 and 38 for the associate degree. The MA students are required to provide a recognized CPR certification (healthcare level) prior to enrolling for the programs. The college also has provisions for day and evening classes both. However, it is at the college’s discretion to cancel the evening classes whenever they deem necessary.
|Number of Courses||Diploma, Associate's Degree|
|Campus||Hampton, VA / Virginia Beach, VA / Richmond, VA|
The medical assisting diploma program offered by Stratford University consists of 14 courses or 63 credit hours. The program can be completed within 23 months and 12 months for those with part-time enrollment. On the other hand, the medical assistant associate’s degree takes up to 32 months, but those with part-time enrollment can complete it within 16 months.
The degree consists of 20 courses (90 credit hours), including 15 core subject modules and 5 arts and science course modules, which take up 67.5 and 22.5 credit hours, respectively. The study centers at Stratford provide a space designed to encourage the exploration and analysis of timely topics. Small classroom sizes and an excellent student-to-teacher ratio encourage teamwork and concept sharing between students and teachers.
|Number of Courses||Diploma, Associate's Degree|
|Campus||Alexandria, VA / Falls Church, VA|
Fortis College provides a medical assistant program that helps prepare potential medical workers for the healthcare field. The college believes in offering safe and convenient options for all the traditional as well as non-traditional candidates. By registering at Fortis, you will be able to get the support and resources you need throughout your program (and beyond) to make sure you keep up with the job opportunities on offer.
The student-teacher ratio at Fortis means classroom sizes allow for personal, in-person, and online attention. The retention rate of Norfolk campus for the year 2019 was 73%, and 56% was the placement rate. Correspondingly, the placement and retention rates for the same cohort of the second campus (Richmond) were 62% and 73%, respectively.
|Number of Courses||Certificate|
|Campus||Norfolk, VA / Richmond, VA|
The students can now choose from a variety of community, career colleges as well as vocational schools in and around VA.
The Certified Medical Assistants (CMA) in Virginia are also members of the Virginia Society of Medical Assistants. In VA, there is no formal requirement to hold a certification, registration, or any sort of license to practice. However, it entirely depends on the employer if he/she wants to hire someone with a certification or not.
Initially, a medical assistant needs to graduate from either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education School (ABHES) to qualify for certification. A lot of employers in Virginia are slightly inclined towards hiring medical assistants with CPR certification, at least 3 years of experience, along with a valid professional certification.
Following is the list of available certifications for medical assistants, which are approved by the state:
Virginia Society of Medical Assistants is an affiliate of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and is built under the commonwealth laws of Virginia. The VSMA aims at providing medical assistants with resources to perform well in the work field under the direction of physicians and other health professionals. The society consists of over 500 members from all over Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Health believes in ensuring quality healthcare as well as protect the well-being of the people of Virginia. The departments’ motive is for the state to become the healthiest in the nation. You can also find the Virginia Board of Medicine’s link on the same site.
Virginia Health Care Association, also known as Virginia Center for Assisted Living, is focused on administering the facilities, driven by medical or physician assistants, to ensure responsible and caretaking staff. VHCA-VCAL also provides appropriate education and training and looks after reimbursement and compliance issues on behalf of its members.
Medical schools in Virginia’s neighboring states could be of interest to you.
Written by : Casey Gardner
Casey Gardner is both a healthcare support professional and an accomplished content creator. She has been working as a certified health care professional with marketable skills as a physician assistant, and a qualified medical assistant for last two decades. She has dedicated her nursing career to produce over hundreds of content pieces since 2001, and her work has been published both online as well as offline.
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