ACC’s Newly Revamped Medical Assistant Program

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Taylor Scherck, Reporter

Arapahoe Community College’s Medical Assistant Program began in the 1970s and is designed to develop students’ skills and place them in outpatient care facilities. The program is designed in a “step-manner,” which allows students to enter the workforce as soon as possible while continuing their education in class.

The program started out as an associate degree and was 60 credits. It was decreased to 49 credits and then was not offered for about 18 months. In 2011, the program was revamped as a certificate of 34 credits and this past year was modified to 29 credits. Industry was a big factor in the recent changes, as ACC wanted a streamline program that gave all the necessary basics to supply graduates with jobs quickly.

The program is open to anyone and offers a lot of flexibility within it. Once students fulfill the prerequisites, they can join at any semester. In order to join the Medical Assistant Program, students must be able to read at the college level and pass the English and Math Accuplacer. Once admitted, students who begin classes in the fall can complete the program fast track, meaning they can take heavy class loads and finish in two semesters. Most students take three to four semesters because they want take fewer classes at once or because they want to start during a different semester.

In an interview via Zoom, Medical Program Coordinator Deby Stutman explained that a medical assistant is an allied assistant who supports the work of a doctor at a doctor’s office. Medical assistants are usually the ones who greet patients in the waiting room and take them back to check their weight and blood pressure. She said medical assistants can help out with “little surgeries,” such as removing a mole or drawing blood.

Stutman discussed the importance of  medical assistants and the industry climate today.

“There are so many jobs as a medical assistant out there, [employers] are literally begging for students to come and get a job.”

Stutman says that the medical assistant program teaches students everything they will need to know. The program starts off by focusing on the administrative part. After a couple of classes, students can to apply to a doctor’s office and work at the front desk as a receptionist. While students are gaining experience, they can come back to school and finish the medical assistant program. After completing the program, students can go back and work in the same office, but this time they can work in the back, administering injections and assisting the doctor.

“We teach you administrative, a little bit of coding because you need that with insurance and then, at the end, you will learn about injections and taking blood and helping the doctor out, which is mostly what you do,” Stutman says. “You will also complete an internship and find a job placement, which has never been a problem for students.”

At the end of the program, students are given the opportunity take one of five certification exams, which are required by most employers, two of which are offered at the ACC testing center. Once a student passes the exam, they become a certified medical assistant.

Stutman says, in the future, medical assistants can go back to complete a nursing degree or earn a masters as a physician assistant, which would allow them to see patients on their own.

“This program is a good testing ground to see whether you want to become a nurse or not because you have a lot of patient interaction and it doesn’t cost as much as going through a nursing program,” Stutman says. “Becoming a medical assistant gives you a wide area to look at, and you can work in a wide variety of specialties.”

If you are interested in applying for the program you can do so here. If you would like more information on the program or the classes offered, be sure to check it out on ACC’s Medical Program page.