Medical Assisting

Overview

Medical assistants perform the vital role of gathering and translating a patient’s issues and needs to a physician. They perform many clinical duties such as taking and recording vital signs and medical histories, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, and administering medications as directed by a physician. Medical assistants can also assist with ensuring medical offices and clinics continue to run smoothly by scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding for insurance purposes.

How long does it take to become a medical assistant?

For full-time Medical Assisting students, this is a three-semester vocational certification program. ECC will prepare you for this exciting career with a combination of classroom, clinical, and externship experiences in area medical offices and clinics. Plus, students in the program receive career development help with resume writing, and job interviewing skills and will be prepared to take the registered medical assistant exam (held on campus). Afterward, you'll be ready for a job as a medical assistant to perform clinical and administrative duties in a variety of healthcare settings including outpatient or ambulatory care facilities, such as medical offices and clinics.

What sets ECC's program apart?

A new, state-of-the-art lab space is being built for the Medical Assisting program. The space will include a classroom and lab space for a simulation lab built to resemble a clinic, including a waiting area, reception counter, and three private exam rooms.

This program is designed to prepare the student to be competitively recognized in the field by being able to take the Registered Medical Assistant exam (RMA) offered by American Medical Technologist (AMT).

What do medical assistants do?

  • Collect medical histories and be the liaison between the patient and medical provider.
  • Arrange for hospital admissions and laboratory service.
  • Maintain medical office appointments, transcription, and health care records using an electronic health record system.
  • Perform basic billing and collection, insurance, coding, and referral management.
  • Draw blood, collect patient specimens, and process and transport specimens.
  • Perform and assist the physician with procedures and testing using proper techniques.
  • Prepare and administer injections including immunizations.
  • Take electrocardiograms.
  • Transmit prescription refills as directed.
  • Instruct patients regarding physician recommendations including health maintenance and disease prevention.
  • Perform an inventory of supplies and routine maintenance of equipment.

What’s the difference between a medical assistant and a basic nurse assistant or phlebotomist?

Medical assistants perform clinical duties similar to basic nurse assistants (BNA) but have a larger clinical scope. Students are trained in phlebotomy, injections including vaccinations, and assisting the physician in-office procedures. They are also trained in administrative duties, billing, coding, and insurance, making their skills more versatile and increasing their earning potential. Medical assistants often work in an outpatient setting, whereas BNAs are more commonly employed in hospital settings and assisted living facilities.

Like a phlebotomist, medical assistants can also collect blood samples for analysis. Phlebotomists often work in labs, whereas medical assistants work in a clinical setting.

Plan of Study and Course Descriptions


Review the ECC catalog for details about the medical assisting plan of study and course descriptions.

Vocational Certificates

Getting a Job as a Certified Medical Assistant


Medical assistants are needed throughout medical clinics and offices in the Northern Illinois region, and the Medical Assisting Department regularly posts job opportunities for students. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that medical assistant jobs will grow by 18 percent by 2030. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Assistants, (accessed January 28, 2022). You can find the median wage for medical assistants on Elgin's Career Coach site.

Jobs that may be available to students who complete the Medical Assisting vocational certificate include the following:

  • Medical Assistant
  • Certified Medical Assistant
  • Primary Care Medical Assistant
  • Patient Care Coordinator
  • Specialty Medical Assistant

Learn more about Medical Assisting Training at ECC!

Earning a certificate at Elgin Community College can set your career in motion.

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