2013 MA Application Now Available!
The revised application for starting the MA degree or certificate in fall 2013 is now available! Click here to be taken to the application. Feel free to contact Entry & Advising with questions about prerequisites or completing the application.
What is the Medical Assisting degree/certificate?
Associate of Science (AS) Degree or Certificate in Medical Assisting (MA)
WCC offers two options for aspiring medical assistants: an AS degree or a certificate. The difference between the two is in the number of general education/related instruction courses that a student completes. The program options run concurrently and are primarily a full-time course of study. The core courses for both the degree and certificate take 4-5 consecutive quarters to complete. All MA degree or certificate programs start each fall quarter annually. Program space is limited and a special application process and fee is required.
All students in the MA degree / certificate program take the same clinical training and administrative skill coursework. Upon graduating from the MA degree or certificate program, students are eligible to take an exam to become Certified Medical Assistants.
What can I do with an MA degree or certificate?
The MA degree/certificate program is designed to train students to work as a member of a health care team, performing a broad range of clinical and administrative tasks under the supervision of a physician, physician's assistant or nurse practitioner. Several areas of specialization are available as described below.
Degree/Certificate Information [PDF Format]
The different areas of specialization within the WCC Medical Assisting program are as follows:
- Associate in Science Degree / Medical Assisting (offered face-to-face)
- Certificate / Medical Assisting ---Click here for Gainful Employment details.
- Certificate / Medical Billing & Coding ---Click here for Gainful Employment details.
- Certificate / Medical Front Office Reception ---Click here for Gainful Employment details.
What are the Certificates for Medical Billing & Coding or Medical Front Office Reception?
These certificates share a common core of professional medical and office courses, with the student completing some specialty courses and a job-specific cooperative work experience. Students train on industry-specific, state-of-the-art software that gives them the skills needed to succeed in a medical office as a receptionist, patient services specialist, or medical billing specialist. There is no special application process or fee required for entry to these certificate programs. Many of the core courses required for these certificates can be applied toward the selective entry Medical Assisting degree or certificate program.
Study Options: the IBEST Program
IBEST stands for Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training. An IBEST program is one that allows students who are working on their basic educational skills (English and Math) to study in a professional technical program at the same time. What the student experiences is two teachers in the classroom and an extra support class to ensure full understanding of classroom information.
WCC's IBEST program takes students through the courses for the Medical Front Office Reception or Medical Billing and Coding Certificates in 7-8 quarters. Students must have Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) test scores in a certain range to qualify for the IBEST program. The CASAS test can be taken on the Whatcom campus. Call the Adult Basic Education/English as a Second Language (ABE/ESL) office at 360.383.3060 for more information.
If you think you are interested in this program or would like more information, please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call and speak to one of the Entry and Advising staff at 360.383.3080.
What are the prerequisites* to enter the Medical Assisting Degree/Certificate program?
The prerequisite courses for the MA degree or certificate are listed on the individual degree and certificate information links above. All prerequisite courses must be passed with a "C" (2.0 grade point) or "S" grade or better. In particular please note the following competencies and other considerations that are required prior to entering the Medical Assisting Degree or Certificate Program:
- Placement into Math 98 or above, or completion of Math 96 or above. Math assessments are available by appointment. Call the Entry and Advising Center at 360.383.3080 or the Testing Center at 360.383.3050 to schedule an appointment.
- ENGL& 101, English Composition 1 (or equivalent).
- MA 113, Introduction to Medical Computing or BIS 101, Introduction to Business Computing
- CMST& 210, Interpersonal Communications or CMST 145, Introduction to Organizational Communication
- MA 101, Medical Terminology.
What are the prerequisites for the Medical Billing & Coding and Medical Front Office Reception Certificates?
There are no prerequisites for the Medical Billing & Coding and Medical Front Office Reception certificates.
How can the Opportunity Grant Scholarship help you?
The Opportunity Grant Scholarship offers tuition assistance to eligible students as they work toward a career in the healthcare industry. Please click here for a detailed explanation of eligibility, services, and contact information. Apply Now!
What is the Medical Assisting degree/certificate program selective application process and timeline?
- The MA program starts each fall quarter. Prior to applying it is strongly recommended that prospective students attend a Medical Assisting information session or make an advising appointment in the Entry/Advising Office in Laidlaw Center, Room 116, or call 360.383.3080.
- Admission to the Medical Assisting degree/certificate program is decided through a competitive selection process. Applications are considered on a first come, first served basis. Applications turned in after the deadline will be considered only if they are complete and if there is space available. For a full list of application requirements, see the Medical Assisting Program Application under Step 2 (below).
How is the final selection made and how will I know if I have been accepted to the Medical Assisting degree or certificate program?
All information supplied in the application packet is taken into consideration as part of Selective Entry Application criteria. WCC's Medical Assisting Program Selection Committee is made up of Medical Assisting program faculty who review and select all applications based upon a first come, first served priority basis, the number of seats available in the program, and upon the selection criteria detailed in the application information. In addition, please note:
- All applicants can expect to receive notification of status of application by letter within 2-4 weeks following the application deadline.
- If you are not accepted you must reapply the following year to be considered for program admission the following year. At this time, you will be expected to pay the application fee and submit a new background check.
- Applicants may choose to appeal admissions decisions. All appeals will be directed to the Dean of Workforce Education at WCC.
If accepted, what are the additional MA program requirements?
- Students accepted into to the Medical Assisting Degree or Certificate programs will need to show documentation that indicates they have begun required immunization series. Immunization records will also satisfy this requirement. See WCC's specific immunization requirements and policy included with the Medical Assisting application materials. Required immunizations must be completed prior to clinical competencies performed in the lab portions of the Medical Assisting Program, unless otherwise specified by the Program Coordinator.
- The field of Medical Assisting requires:
- a full range of body motion
- manual and finger dexterity and eye-hand coordination
- standing and walking for extensive periods of time
- occasionally lifting and carrying items weighing up to 100 pounds
- corrected vision and hearing to normal range
- working under stressful conditions or working irregular hours
- exposure to communicable diseases or bodily fluids
- frequent exposure to communicable diseases, toxic substances, medicinal preparations and other conditions common to a clinic environment.
- Please note: Entry or acceptance into the Medical Assisting program does not guarantee students a job placement, nor does it guarantee a practicum placement in Whatcom County. Practicum placements often require successful interviews and background checks. Also, due to increased competition for practicum placements in Washington State, Whatcom Community College cannot guarantee that student practicums will be in the last quarter of the Medical Assisting program classes.
Background Checks and Drug Testing
Acceptance into the Medical Assisting Degree/Certificate Programs requires a Washington State Patrol background check to support clinical placements. Students need to pay a $10 fee to the WCC Business Office to start the process and submit the receipt with their application. Results of the background check will be provided to the Medical Assistant Program Coordinator and all findings will remain confidential to WCC Administration. Those students with a negative finding will be required to meet with the Coordinator prior to admittance to discuss possible options. Results of background checks for program applicants are considered valid for 6 months only.
Students should be aware that some organizations may require drug testing and/or a more extensive background check as a prerequisite to, or condition of, practicum placement. It is the student's responsibility to understand all requirements and the potential impact such requirements may have on their ability to be placed for practicums. These requirements may also be conditions for future employment of the student.
Whatcom Community College Medical Assisting Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) upon the recommendation of the Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB). CAAHEP,1361 Park Street, Clearwater, FL 727-210-2350, (727)210-2350.
Accredited by Commission on
Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
Career & Salary Outlook
Starting wages for medical assistants may range between $12.62 and $14.86 per hour; the median wage is $16.44 per hour.
Sources: Washington Occupation Information System, 2013; WA State Employment Security Department, September 2013.
Advising and Education Planning
360.383.3080 for appointment
Cascade Hall, Room 133