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Medical Assistant Curriculum: What Incoming Students Can Expect To Learn

Becoming a certified medical assistant (MA) is a great way to break into a rewarding career in healthcare. Certified medical assistants play a crucial role in the healthcare industry, applying both clinical and administrative skills to various healthcare practices across the healthcare continuum. Students who enroll in the University of Providence’s Medical Assistant Certificate program can graduate ready and prepared for national certification through the NHA and for a rewarding career as a certified medical assistant.


Why Become A Medical Assistant

There are many benefits to becoming a certified medical assistant. Not only does the MA career path offer a fast track for those looking to enter the medical field, but many skills learned by today’s certified medical assistants provide a strong groundwork for more advanced careers in different healthcare disciplines – including registered nursing, healthcare administration, and more.

In addition to the career and academic prospects for certified medical assistants, positions within the field of medical assisting can range, with certified medical assistants found throughout the healthcare continuum. While most medical assistants work in private practice doctors or physicians’ offices, they can also be found in hospitals, clinics, outpatient care centers, and ambulatory care services, with job responsibilities varying by position held and mode of practice.


Key MA Skills & Concepts

Certified medical assistants are tasked with performing various clinical and administrative tasks as part of their positions. While specific job descriptions will vary, medical assistants should be able to perform many of the daily tasks centered around the function of a medical office. As such, the curriculum for certified medical assistant students centers around building competencies for these skills and more. At the time of graduation, students will be able to perform the following:

  • Taking and recording patient vitals.
  • Performing patient rooming procedures
  • Recording and managing electronic health records
  • Drawing and collecting a patient’s blood
  • Administering an EKG
  • Conducting basic laboratory testing
  • Performing a patient intake
  • Correct methods for handling patient protective equipment


University of Providence Medical Assistant Program Overview

The University of Providence’s medical assistant curriculum breaks down into three semesters designed to deliver maximum learning outcomes. The program operates on a hybrid learning model consisting of online, asynchronous assignments paired with in-person skill labs.


Online Coursework

In total, MA students will take five courses totaling 16 credit hours. Courses will cover a variety of health and wellness concepts, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and nutrition. In addition to these concepts, students will also learn about various entry-level healthcare skills and competencies such as healthcare ethics and legal issues, infection prevention, administrative practice, and finance. All coursework is designed for completion online using weekly deadlines, allowing students to manage coursework within the set due dates.

In-Person Skill Labs

Skill labs are an essential part of the curriculum and vital for all certified medical assistants. Skill labs provide a controlled environment for students to practice clinical skills and concepts. Skill lab sites are hosted through partnering facilities and are taught by either currently certified medical assistants or registered nurses.

During skill labs, students practice core competencies all certified medical assistants should know, including how to perform blood draws, conduct a patient intake, properly handling of electronic medical records, policies and procedures for handling and donning protective medical equipment, patient room procedures, blood draws, and more.


Part of the medical assistant program is a required 160-hour internship/practicum for all students. It is important for all certified medical assistants to not only maintain classroom and skill lab practice but to understand how these practices are applied in real-world medical practice. As part of the practicum, students will be able to apply the skills they’ve learned to a real medical practice. Not only will students be able to tout their real-world application of MA skills, but the experience will also help them meet the requirements for national certification, the final step toward becoming a certified medical assistant.

Exam-Prep & Certification

Graduates of the medical assistant program will go on to receive a certificate through the University of Providence. However, many states require medical assistants to receive national certification in addition to the successful completion of an academic program. As part of the medical assistant program, students will receive exam prep for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), offered by the National Healthcare Association (NHA). Receiving this certification will ensure that students meet the proper certifying requirements for their state and are eligible to practice as a medical assistant.


Start Your Journey to Becoming an MA.

The University of Providence’s Medical Assistant program is designed for completion in 10 months, with intakes occurring each fall (August) and spring (January) semester. Enrolling students must be within travel distance of one of our four skill lab locations in California, Montana, or Oregon. Learn more about our skill lab locations, entry requirements, and admissions information on the University of Providence Medical Assistant Certificate program webpage.