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Your Questions Answered: Medical Assistant Certificate

The University of Providence’s undergraduate Medical Assistant program offers students the opportunity to learn, practice, and apply clinical and administrative skills in medical assisting. Completed in 10-months, students earn 16 total credits at the time of certificate completion and are eligible to sit for national certification through one of three certifying agencies.

Explore questions about our Medical Assistant Certificate program today.


How long will it take to complete the medical assistant program?

The program is designed for completion in 10 months. Students who enroll for the fall (August) semester can expect to complete the program by June of following year. Students who enroll in the spring (January) semester can expect to complete the program by November of that same year.


Where are the programs skill lab sites located?

The medical assistant program currently has four skill lab locations. Students are required to reside within driving or commuting distance to one of these skill lab locations:

  • Providence Reeds Crossing in Hillsboro, Oregon
  • Providence Facey Medical Group in Northridge, California
  • Benefis Medical Office Building 4 in Great Falls, Montana


Can I complete my 160-hour practicum at my current job?

No. Per accreditation requirements, students must complete their 160-hour MA practicum at a partner facility or healthcare institution that the student does not work at.


How many classes are in person and how long are they each?

All skill labs for the MA program require in-person attendance. Students complete a total of 14 weekend skill labs during their time in the program, averaging two to three skill labs per course. Lab days begin at 8:00am and conclude at 5:00pm. Students receive a one-hour lunch and two 15-minute brakes each.


I’m an employed MA seeking national certification. Is there an exam prep course available?

Yes. The University of Providence offers an Online Medical Assisting Certification Exam Prep Course. This 100% online course is designed to support currently employed Medical Assistant seeking to obtain national certification to become a Certified Medical Assistant. The course prepares students to sit for either the NHA-CCMA, NCCT-NCMA, or AMCA-CCMA exams.

IMPORTANT: The MA exam-prep course does NOT replace formal MA training/education required by the Washington Department Of Health and most national testing organizations.


Does the medical assistant program require COVID-19 Immunizations?

The MA Program STRONGLY ENCOURAGES students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as most partner organizations for practicum placement require updated vaccination records. Students who have a religious or medical exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine are required to complete a waiver form.

IMPORTANT:  UP has the right to accept or deny any COVID-19 vaccination waiver request. Hospitals or clinics may require students to be up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations and may choose to deny waivers for practicum placement. The MA Program Director and Program Coordinator will work with waivered students to find settings suitable for a practicum placement that accept the waiver. UP cannot guarantee practicum placements for waivered students.


What is a hybrid program?

Hybrid learning programs offer a combination of online and in-person curriculum components as part of the program. Students in the medical assistant program complete 80% of their coursework online and 20% of their coursework in-person during required in-person skill labs.


What can students expect to learn in skill labs?

Skill labs provide students with the opportunity to practice concepts learned during the online didactic portion of the curriculum. Students attend skill labs alongside their regional cohort counterparts to practice clinical and administrative skills under the guidance of MA faculty and lab coordinators.


Does the University of Providence offer student support services?

Yes. Students can find up-to-date information, resources, and more on the Academics Homepage of our website. All enrolled students can take advantage of student support services such as academic support, tutoring, and more. Eligible students can also take advantage of library resources as well.


Is financial aid available?

Students in the medical assistant program are eligible for FAFSA. Furthermore, current healthcare professionals and Providence Caregivers can receive additional tuition discounts. Currently employed healthcare professionals can receive the Healthcare Professional Tuition Incentive applied toward the medical assistant program. Providence Caregivers and their dependents can access information on tuition discounts and other education benefits through the Human Resources Caregiver Service Portal.


Who is an ideal candidate for the medical assistant program?

Ideal candidates for the Medical Assistant program are those seeking an entry-level position in healthcare. Medical assistants work closely with registered nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers to aid in a patient’s healthcare experience through various clinical and administrative tasks. Medical assistants can be found working in hospitals, private practices, clinics, outpatient services and more.


When does enrollment for the medical assistant program take place?

The Medical Assistant program accepts fall (August) and spring (January) enrollment. Students are enrolled in regional specific cohorts, meaning students progress through each course alongside those in their regional intake group. Access the latest information on the admissions page.


What can I expect while taking the didactic online portion of the curriculum?

The online portion of the MA curriculum offers students the flexibility of learning course material and concepts on their own time. The MA program combines readings, writings, quizzes, tests, and video content to best demonstrate and prepare students for skill lab immersion. Online didactic portions of the medical assistant program are completed through the online learning platform Moodle.


Is national certification required to become a medical assistant?

Today, many states and employers require medical assistants to receive and hold national certification to be able to practice in the workforce. MA students at the University of Providence are eligible to sit for either the NHA-CCMA, NCCT-NCMA, or AMCA-CCMA. The medical assistant program currently DOES NOT meet National Exam Credentialing Organization requirements for the AAMA.


What will a typical day-to-day look like after graduating with this certificate?

Graduates of UP’s medical assistant program go on to work as medical assistants in healthcare. While specific job functions vary by employer, job description, and skillset, most MA’s can expect to perform entry-level administrative and clinical healthcare tasks, including but not limited to patient intakes, patient blood draws, checking patient vitals, scheduling patient appointments and more.


Do I need an existing higher education degree to enroll?

No higher education experience or credits are required to enroll in or complete the program.


Will I be able to complete this program as a full-time employee?

Full-time and part-time workers are encouraged to apply. The Medical Assistant Certificate program is designed to meet the needs of working professionals with flexible online courses and weekend skill labs.


Can I go on to become a nurse after becoming a medical assistant?

Yes. Many medical assistants go on to pursue more advanced positions in healthcare after earning their certification and working in the field for a few years. Since MA’s get experience in both clinical and administrative healthcare, they are familiar with some of the skills and practices of registered nurses.


Where can I work after graduating from the medical assistant program?

Medical assistants can find work throughout healthcare. Common places medical assistants can find employment include private medical and physician offices, clinics, hospitals, specialist care facilities, blood donation and blood lab centers, ambulatory care, mobile and traveling clinics, and more.


Where can I find out more information about the medical assistant program?

For the most up-to-date information on the Medical Assistant Certificate, MA-R to MA-C pathway, and Medical Assistant Exam-Prep course, visit the Medical Assistant webpage on our website.


What is the difference between a medical assistant program certificate and national certification?

National certifications are issued by leading healthcare agencies or professional organizations as a standardized way for students to demonstrate knowledge. These certifications usually require recipients to renew and maintain their certification over a predetermined time. Medical assistant program certificates are issued through an educational institution as a recognition of skill completion.


Can the program be completed as a part-time student?

No. The medical assistant program is designed for completion as a cohort. In cohort programs, students complete the same courses at the same time in chronological order with their intake class specific to their region. Students are expected to complete the program alongside their intake cohort.


Will I have to find my own practicum location?

Medical assistant program students will receive help in securing practicum locations from faculty.


What is the difference between the MA-R to MA-C program and the medical assistant program?

The medical assistant program is a 10-month, 16-credit program designed for non-employed, non-practicing, aspiring medical assistants to receive an educational certificate and prepare them for national certification. The MA-R to MA-C pathway is a 16-week, three credit program designed for currently registered medical assistants seeking an educational certificate and preparing for national certification.