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How much Does the Program Cost?

You are going to like this! For those eligible for a California College Promise Grant (formerly Board of Governors or BOG Fee Waiver) there is no enrollment fee (tuition) at all.

For students who are not eligible for the California College Promise Grant, the enrollment fee is currently $46 per unit (this amount is subject to change per state budget funding). To see if you are eligible for a grant, go to the CRC financial Aid web site at CRC financial Aid website

Your main expenses at CRC will be transportation, parking and books. Books are the largest single expense at a community college. They may run $80 to $100 per class so, if you are taking a twelve unit load (four classes), you should figure on another $400 for books. Of course, if you are eligible for financial aid and the Cal Grant, all of these expenses could be covered so be sure to file a FAFSA (application) Go to FAFSA and to apply.

Are there costs beyond enrollment fees and textbooks for things such as uniforms, material and lab fees, insurance, tools, etc.?

The student will need immunizations and may have to pay for them if they do not have health insurance. They will need a liability insurance policy ($20) and several sets of scrubs ($40 to $50).

Is the program accredited?

Yes. The full Medical Assisting certificate is an accredited program.

What agency accredits the program?

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs ( CRC has just received a ten year renewal of accreditation.

What does it mean to students to attend an “accredited” program?

It provides assurance that the curriculum, facilities and faculty meet the highest possible standards. This in turn, assures the highest quality education for the student and they can be certain that their degree or certificate will be recognized in the workplace and by other similarly accredited institutions.

What are the program strengths or unique features? What sets it apart from other schools with this major?

A good measure of a program is whether the local employers are willing to take the students for internships and then hire them later. Our students routinely land internships at the largest and most desirable sites in the Sacramento area and 95% have jobs within six months.

Professor Cori Burns is the past President of the California Society of Medical Assistants.

Should I get an AA/AS Degree or get a Certificate?

Does attainment of an AA/AS provide any advantage in entering the workforce over a certificate? 

It really doesn’t seem to make a difference in terms of employability according to Professor Burns. The choice is more related to the student’s ultimate professional goals. Sometimes, they are using the program as a stepping stone to Physician Assistant or medical administration. In such a situation, the additional coursework would probably be valuable.

Is there a separate application for the program?

Yes, please see the program application Medical Assisting.

How long will it take to complete the degree or certificate and what is the suggested sequencing of courses?

The major coursework for the certificate or degree can actually be completed in two semesters. The complete AS degree is sixty units including the major and general education so it takes a minimum of two years of academic work to complete the degree More than half of the enrolled students are enrolled full-time but part-time attendance is possible for those whose lives do not allow full-time attendance. The course sequence is listed below.

Are there any limitations (day, evening, part-time) as to how or when students can complete this program?

Most definitely as the required Medical Assisting course work is available only during the day according to the schedule above. In other words, if one does not take and pass a class when offered, they will need to wait until it is offered again to take it.

What opportunities are there for obtaining credit for other training (military, private vocational schools, apprenticeship, etc.) or substituting work experience for major requirements?

There is very little substitution done for the MA classes themselves. Other course work such as computers, medical terminology and biology, etc. often have equivalents at other colleges.

What teaching formats such as online, televised, lecture and laboratory are used to deliver instruction?

Currently all Medical Assisting classes are standard lecture/lab format. The Allied Health classes required by the major are offered in several formats, traditional, online and distant education.

What are the instructional facilities (classrooms, labs, etc.) like?

The clinic has been updated. It has six beds and five EKG machines. Clinical students have many laboratory aids and devices upon which they can practice their skills before they are turned loose on humans who can jerk and feel pain. A good example of one of these would be the “practice veins” which have the same feel and resistance to puncture as a human vein. Students can get used to puncturing these and feeling the “pop” as well as get to know when to stop penetration. Biohazard and sharps containers, centrifuges, charting materials, protective gowns and gloves, etc. are all used in the lab just as in the workplace.

What general skill levels (English and math) are recommended for entry-level coursework and to progress satisfactorily?

Program Director, Professor Cori Burns feels that English skills are very important to success in the program. She is considering setting the Business 100 writing class as a prerequisite to MA 100, Introduction to Medical Assisting. A majority of the students are ESL students and their success is related to their English levels. From observations in the clinical classes, I would add that the ability to listen well in English is very important since much of the instruction during demonstrations involves listening and answering questions that Professor Burns tosses out to check on previous learned material. In addition, some arithmetic skills will be necessary.

What are common advising issues in this program that counselors should know about?

The course sequencing is crucial. This means that students must take the course and pass it when offered or wait until it cycles around again. Encourage full-time attendance if possible.

The administrative certificate does not have the clinical component.

The Insurance Billing certificate is for entry-level employment. It doesn’t contain sufficient coding for the student to open their own home business

What is the nature of any required practicum or externship in this program?

How many hours and during what part of the day is this? The Medical Assisting degree and certificate programs require MA 140, Medical Assisting Directed Practicum. It is a minimum of 180 hours and most of the large institutions require a full-time eight hour day shift. Cori Burns still assists them with site placement.

Does the college or program find the site for the student? Yes. We have many students doing their externship with Sutter Hospital, UC Davis Medical Center, Mercy Hospital and Kaiser Permanente.

What does it feel like to be a student in this program?

Who are our students?

The students are almost entirely female and most ethnic groups are represented. There are a large number of English-second-language students. The age range is pretty diverse too.

What is the classroom culture like?

Like most cohort groups, the Medical Assisting students form friendships as they progress through the course sequence. The beginning Intro class will have about forty-five students in it and the group will then funnel out into the degree and certificate programs. The clinical classes will have twenty-five students and more than half of them are full-time.

Laughter is commonplace in the classroom, perhaps brought on by relief that they will not have to “stick” each other to practice finger sticks for blood sugar or hematocrits or when faced with the prospects of doing urine analysis for pregnancy. Despite the seeming informality, this is a “competency-based“ program. No one passes the program without meeting these many competencies. For instance, each student will have to give ten injections in different locations of the patient’s anatomy or perform ten EKG tests.

How much of the instruction is “hands-on” or workplace simulation?

The beginning level courses are mostly lecture while the advanced ones are about a 40/60 lecture/lab split. The clinical phase, MEDA 230, have increasing hands-on. It is here, when they have to merge knowledge into practiced techniques, that students will either “get it or they don’t”.

Everything that professor Burns does in the class gets related to some actual practice on the job. There is a great deal of reinforcement of earlier learning through questioning techniques during demonstration. Cori might ask (of her set-up for finger sticks), “what is missing?” The answer might be the “Sharps or biohazard” containers.

What is the nature of the relationships between students and between the students and professor?

It is very much like a coaching relationship. The professor provides the theory and demonstrates the skills and then the students practice together to hone the skills. There is frequent laughter in the clinical course and students are encouraged (and do) ask questions frequently. Professor Burns is very much in control of her classroom environment and the flow of instruction but has a warm wit that students really like even while she is challenging them. It is evident that she accepts only professional behavior and results.

Are there any special certificates or licensing exams that graduates must or can take?

In Medical Assisting there is not currently a requirement to be licensed. However, there is an opportunity for graduates to become a Certified Medical Assistant. Graduates have the option of taking a certification exam administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants through the National Board of Medical Examiners, which would then grant the CMA (AAMA) credential. Certification as a CMA (AAMA) provides an advantage in the career, demonstrates currency of knowledge and enables the CMA (AAMA) to acquire the CEUs (Continuing Education Units) needed to be recertified every five years.

Are there costs associated with these?

The exam costs $125.00.

Are there any physical or legal limitations (immigration status, felony or misdemeanor convictions, etc.) to licensing?

People with felony convictions are not eligible for the exam without a review by the AAMA, the American Association of Medical Assistants.

How well do CRC graduates do on these exams?

Graduates of the program have consistently passed with high scores.

Are there any special scholarships available to students in this program?

The AAMA offers the Maxine Williams scholarship to current medical assisting students.