Medical Assisting Program

Welcome to the Medical Assisting Program's home page.  The purpose of this page is to provide information about our program, staff, additional links, and exciting areas of opportunities.  Medical assisting can be covered into three areas:

  • Administrative (front office)
  • Clinical (back office)
  • Financial (coding, billing, and insurance)

Southwestern College (SWC) offers several certificates in specific areas of Medical assisting:

Certificates of Achievement:

Students who have been awarded a Certificate of Achievement in Medical Assisting may continue and complete the additional courses needed for the:

Associate in Science Degree

All students who successfully complete the Medical Assisting Program are eligible to sit for the NHA Allied Health Certifications exam in the following areas

  • Medical Assistant Certification (CCMA)
  • Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
  • Billing & Coding Specialists (CBCS)

A career in medical assisting can lead to many rewarding career opportunities such as working in hospitals, clinics, research facilities, academia, physicians' offices, insurance companies, legal offices, chiropractic offices, and becoming self employed.

What is a Medical Assistant?

According to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), "Medical assistants are multiskilled and allied health professionals specifically educated to work in ambulatory settings performing administrative and clinical duties."  The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), indicates there are several attributes that contribute to the growth of medical assistants:

  • The number of outpatient and physician offices will increase
  • The medical field has new and advancing technology
  • The "baby boomer" generation is growing in number

Whether the medical assistant is performing clinical or administrative duties, these individuals assist in keeping the medical office running efficiently and effectively.  So, regardless if the medical assistant works for a physician, physician's assistant, nurse practitioner, or clinical researcher, the responsibilities of a medical assistant involves working under the direct guidance, supervision, and instruction of a physican.

Administrative Medical Assistant:  Responsibilities

The Administrative Medical Assistants' focus is on office procedures such as answering telephones, scheduling patients, greeting patients, effective use of written and oral communication, handling correspondence, arranging for hospital admissions, scheduling surgical procedures, ensuring good public relations, excellent computer skills, and laboratory services. 

Clinical Medical Assistant:  Responsibilities

Clinical medical assistants have various duties, depending on state law. Some common tasks include taking medical histories, proper handwashing techniques, sterilization procedures and protocols, recording vital signs, explaining treatment and at times assisting in these procedures to patients, preparing patients for examinations, injections, vaccinations, allergy-skin testing, and assisting physicians during examinations.  In addition, medical assistants will learn these techniques and procedures in a state-of-the-art on-site clinic.  Our medical assistants play a key role in creating and maintaining a professional image and attitude for the medical office.

Coding and Billing Medical Assistant:  Responsibilities

Medical Coders and Medical Billers are an integral part of the healthcare team.  Their main objective is to understand the guidelines of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT).  Utilizing those guidelines, the Medical Coder and/or the Medical Biller will analyze and abstract information from the patient medical record.  Accurately determining the medical necessity for services rendered by the physician or clinical staff and applying the appropriate ICD and CPT guidelines will result in optimal reimbursement.

Certified Medical Assistants

Certified certification indicates that a medical assistant meets certain standards of knowledge and skills. It may also help to distinguish an experienced or formally trained medical assistant from an entry-level medical assistant, which may lead to a higher salary or more employment opportunities.

Medical Assistant Brochure (PDF)

How to Get Started

Here are some things you need to know to get started on your new career!

  • The Medical Office Professions program does not require completion of prerequisite work.
  • There is not an application process to begin the program; there is no waitlist.
  • Classes begin each fall and spring semester.
  • You need a SWC student ID to enroll in classes.
  • If you do not have a student ID, you can obtain one by applying to the college using the main SWC website.
  • Once you have a student ID, call (619) 216-6665 x4851 and ask to make an appointment with a counselor (be sure to have your ID available when you call).
  • A counselor will work with you to create a Student Education Plan (SEP) that maps your entire program from beginning to end.