Top University with a Medical Assisting Degree Program - San Diego, CA

A number of schools in the San Diego area have top ranking medical assisting programs. Read on to find out more about what these top schools have to offer for medical assisting, as well as tuition and degree information.

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Top Medical Assisting Programs in the San Diego area

The following three medical assisting schools from among a selection of 13 schools stand out based on their proximity and other criteria, such as program variety and degree types offered. Located within a 25-mile radius of the city of San Diego are San Diego Mesa College (Mesa), Palomar College, and Southwestern College (SWC). Mesa's allied health department within its school of health sciences and public service offers an associate's in science degree and certificate of achievement (COA) in medical assisting. Students completing the COA are eligible to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) national certification exam and the California Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA) examination conducted by the California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants. COA graduates can then pursue the program's associate's degree. In San Marcos near San Diego, Palomar offers medical assisting degree and certificate programs, with graduates of these programs eligible to take the RMA and CCMA exams. SWC in Chula Vista offers certificate and degree programs in both administrative and clinical medical assisting as well as medical office management. Graduates can take the CCMA exam.

School Comparison Chart

Category San Diego Mesa College Palomar College Southwestern College
Ranking(s) N/A N/A N/A
Location San Diego, CA San Marcos, CA (12 miles from San Diego city limits, 36 miles from downtown San Diego) Chula Vista, CA (8 miles from downtown San Diego)
School Type 2-year, public 2-year, public 2-year, public
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $1,140 (in-state, undergraduate), $5,532 (out-of-state, undergraduate)** $1,328 (in-state, undergraduate), $5,224 (out-of-state, undergraduate)** $1,334 (in-state, undergraduate), $6,654 (out-of-state, undergraduate)**
Medical/Clinical Assistant Degree Levels Offered Certificate and associate's degree** Certificate and associate's degree** Certificate and associate's degree**
Medical/Clinical Assistant Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2011-2012 29** 10** 14**
Most Popular Medical/Clinical Assistant Program in 2011-2012 Certificate (23 awarded)** Certificate (6 awarded)** Certificate (12 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2008 Entering Class 22%** 26%** 12%**
Noteworthy Mesa is a smoke-free campus Medical office specialist program one of most comprehensive in support training in North San Diego County Medical laboratory technician program fully accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator

Winner: San Diego Mesa College

  • Diverse student body
  • Three-year cohort default rate is 2.7 percentage points lower than the 13.4% national average
  • One of the largest and most successful community colleges in California

Mesa College is one of the largest colleges among the schools that comprise the San Diego Community College District and the 110 community colleges statewide. In its school of health sciences and public service, allied health department are 6 technician and assistant offerings covering areas of study including general medicine; dentistry; animal health; health information; physical therapy; and radiology. The COA in medical assisting program, which includes both clinical and administrative training, takes two semesters to complete. Students to graduate have to complete directed clinical practice in a medical facility, and finish 15 courses totaling 28 credits, covering coursework such as: medical office management; patient care and business principles; phlebotomy; human anatomy and physiology; and medical ethics, terminology and diagnostic testing. Completion of the COA's 2 semesters prepares graduates for the certification examinations given by the California Certifying Board of Medical Assistants (CCBMA) and the American Medical Technologists (AMT). To better position themselves in the job market, students can complete the 2-year degree program in medical assisting. 60 units are required, with 30 core medical assisting credits, general education courses, and successful completion of healthcare facility-based directed clinical practice.

Runner-Up #1: Palomar College

  • California residents pay only $46 per unit
  • Diverse student body
  • Palomar offers more than 200 certificate and associate's degree programs

Located in a north suburb not far from San Diego, Palomar through its medical assisting degree and certificate programs specialize in training focused on clinical medical assisting or administrative medical assisting. The school's curriculum content and coursework subjects meet AMT and CCBMA recommendations to match present industry specifications. Further school curriculum recommendations are provided from the school's medical assisting advisory committee, consisting of members of San Diego County's medical society, healthcare providers, and private clinics. Subsequently, graduates of the program are qualified to sit for the RMA and CCMA exams. Administrative Medical Assisting program requirements consist of 24 units, with coursework covering medical terminology and anatomy; medical insurance; and office procedures. The clinical medical assisting program varies slightly, with approximately 30 units and additional coursework on clinical assisting in patient care and diagnostic procedures, as well as supervised clinical experience. Career expectations may include involvement with medical office assistance, out-patient clerking, insurance billing and coding, and medical records and ECG technicians.

Runner-Up #2: Southwestern College

  • Only institute of higher education located in southern portion of San Diego County
  • For the 2011-2012 school year, 76% of first-time undergraduates received financial aid, according to NCES
  • Among highest ranked nationwide to grant associate's degrees to minority students, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine

The associate's in science degree program that is offered by SWC trains graduates to work in the healthcare industry with the necessary skills as administrative medical assistants. The program consists of 40-41.5 credits, including coursework for medical terminology, coding, insurance, and office procedures. The clinical medical assistant program requires 35-38 units, and includes instruction in clinical practices of diagnostic equipment; insurance and coding procedure; immunization procedure; and blood drawing technique. Students interested in the medical office management program need to complete 43-47 credits connected with healthcare industry supervisory and management skills. All programs require additional general education coursework and graduation requirements. There are 13 different certificates of achievement offered, covering basic, intermediate, and more intensive training in various medical assisting and office management fields.

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