What to Look for in a Medical Assistant Program

What to Look for in a Medical Assistant Program

There is an urgent need for medical assistants in the US over the next decade. More medical assistant jobs are being created, as healthcare facilities expand, and regular employee churn occurs.

Many students are choosing to start a healthcare career as a medical assistant. Most medical assistants work in physician’s offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, OB/GYN, and pediatric clinics. But what should you look for in a medical assistant training program?

Below, we look at the top factors you should look at when choosing a medical assistant program, to help you start your medical career on the right note.


Only graduates of an accredited program are allowed to take the certifying exam. Accreditation means that the curriculum has been reviewed and approved by a regional accrediting body. The programs at Campus are accredited by The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges which approves curriculum for colleges in California. Regional accreditation is generally viewed as more stringent than national accreditation.

The certification exam which medical assistant students study for at Campus is the Nationally Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) exam.

Certificate or Degree?

Some medical assistant schools have different options for earning a credential. For example, they may offer a certificate program and an AA program. Campus has a Medical Assisting certification program and Medical Assisting with Phlebotomy certification program.

Consider how long you want to go through training, and which credentials you will earn before enrolling in a medical assistant program.

Options for Training

Most medical assistant training programs will require some hands-on clinical training, meaning some in-person training will be done in the classroom. Many schools have shifted some of the training online. The training program at Campus has most of the training online, with some required in-person days for hands-on training.

Each student in our Medical Assisting program is also required to finish a 200‐hour unpaid off‐campus Medical Assisting Externship along with regular classwork to graduate. This allows students to get the book training, hand-on training, and field training they need to pass the certification exam.

Faculty and Campus

Who will be training you to become a medical assistant? Meeting the faculty and getting a feel for their demeanor and expertise is a consideration in where you will enroll. Is the school campus up-to-date and in good shape? The learning environment plays a role in your decision-making process. You should also feel at ease with the medical faculty that are conducting your training.


The location of the school is a factor for post-secondary medical assistant training. For any required in-classroom days, many students prefer a school that is close to them, so the commute will be reasonable. Finding a medical assistant program near you should be a consideration when assessing your options.

Program Length

The length of the medical assistant training program should be a factor in where you enroll. Some degree programs are about two years in length. Certificate programs are generally about a year or less. The Medical Assistant program at Campus can be completed in as little as 36 weeks. The amount of time you invest in training will determine how quickly you can be working in the medical field.

Quality of Instruction

Some medical assistant programs are hybrid, others are more traditional, with most of the training in the classroom. To get the most out of your medical assistant training, an immersive environment is often best. Active participation in a high-quality curriculum in a classroom setting can help you absorb the most amount of information. This will help you start your career on the right path.

What Will You Learn?

Medical assistants must learn how to perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks. Most medical assistant training programs will teach students the following:

  • Basic physiology and anatomy
  • Medical terminology
  • Introductory medical billing and coding
  • How to work in a medical office
  • Clinical tasks, such as taking vital signs
  • Assisting in medical laboratory tests
  • Administering vaccinations under the supervision of a physician
  • Hands-on clinical externship in a medical facility

Some medical assistant programs also teach phlebotomy, which is how to draw blood using venipuncture using a needle.

School Reputation

You should research the reputation of the schools in which you are considering enrolling. You can find reviews for the medical training program from past students. You should also ask these questions and compare the answers between schools.

  • How long has the school been around?
  • What is the graduation rate of students in this program?
  • What is the job placement rate of students in this program?
  • Do graduating students seem to be happy with their training experience?
  • Do potential employers hire students from this medical school?

Class Sizes

The typical class sizes can have an impact on the quality of education. The larger the class size, the more difficult is to give individual attention to each student. Find out what the average class size is for each enrollment period for each training program.

Externship Component

Many medical assistant training programs require students to complete an externship getting hands-on clinical experience to graduate and take a certification exam. During this unpaid externship, students work with real-life medical assistants and other healthcare professionals, getting clinical training. This hands-on experience helps students hone their skills before entering the workforce.

Job Placement Rate

The job placement rate is the percentage of graduating students who went on to work in the occupation in which they were trained, or a comparable occupation in a specific timeframe after earning their degree or certificate.

The higher the job placement rate, the more students who graduated found employment in that field shortly after graduation.

Here is the most recent job placement rate for the Campus Medical Assistant program.

Award Year Adjusted Job Placement Rate: 97%, Award Year Unadjusted Job Placement Rate: 88%. Based on the number of Medical Assistant graduates in the 2020-2021 award year who registered for graduate placement services and secured employment in their field of study, and those who did not register and successfully obtained employment on their own.

Student Career Services Offered?

Another factor to consider is the career services department of the school. These student career services help students get a job after graduation. Many schools work with students as their graduation approaches. They may help students with resume development, mock interviews, alumni job placement, and job coaching.

How Much Does the Program Cost?

The cost of the program will always be a consideration. The length of the medical assistant training program, the curriculum, and depth of training will have an effect on the overall cost. Generally, two-year programs will most more than certificate programs, which are about a year or less in length.

Financial Aid

Most accredited schools offer several forms of financial aid to help you pau fo r your training program. These might include Federal Pell Grants, Federal SEOG Grants, Federal Stafford Student Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized), Federal PLUS Loans, State and Private Grants, Federal Work Study, and Institutional Loans.

Check with each educational institution to find out what financial aid programs they offer.

Start Your Career as a Medical Assistant

Becoming a Medical Assistant is a great way to start a career in the medical field, with many ways to advance your career. Campus in Sacramento offers two programs to help you become a NCMA certified Medical Assistant.

Our flagship Medical Assistant program is a 36 week program that trains students in the protocols and procedures used every day in clinics, hospitals, and assisted living environments.

Due to popular demand, we also offer a Medical Assistant with Phlebotomy Certification program that helps students become certified as a medical assistant and become a Certified Phlebotomy Technician.

If you want to take the first step towards this in-demand career, complete the Request Information form or call our Admissions team to learn more today!