The Allied Health Education (AHE) designation includes all courses required for certificates offered in Medical Assistant, Medical Secretary, Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, and Pharmacy Technician. A two-year Medical Assistant Associate in Technical Arts Degree (ATA) is available. Our focus is to offer entry-and intermediate-level healthcare career options and to provide a stepping stone into other healthcare professions. The educational goal is to provide quality programs that will give students the skills and knowledge needed to provide quality care for diverse patient populations.
America needs more healthcare workers. Healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries and the list of high demand occupations continues in the healthcare field. The aging population, new medical technologies, and changes in the way health care is, and will be delivered in the future, are opening doors for people who want to train for a job that pays well and gives them a chance to help other people.
While not all health careers involve working directly with patients, every health professional plays a part in the health care process. Health careers offer the satisfaction of helping others. Advances in medical technology also make health careers exciting and ever-changing. Researchers are constantly discovering new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases. Health workers receive ongoing training to learn new skills, use new technologies and improve patient care.
Program Learning Outcomes
Graduates of the Medical Assistant program will be able to:
- Demonstrate the application of foundational core curriculum to clinical and administrative practices.
- Accurately relate law and ethics as it applies to the medical assisting scope of practice and patient care.
- Perform clinical and administrative skills with a high degree of accuracy and consistency.
- Demonstrate the ability to anticipate and prioritize workflow given varied patient scenarios and clinical situations.
- Recognize the needs of diverse patient populations, demonstrate cultural competence and appropriate communication methods to facilitate excellent patient care.
- Model the qualities of valued healthcare team professionals including timeliness, reliability, integrity, interpersonal and communication skills.
Graduates of the Pharmacy Technician program will:
- Possess the knowledge needed to analyze the Top 200 most prescribed drugs to include their brand and generic names, therapeutic class, use, dosage forms, dosing, pregnancy category, and patient information labeling.
- Create patient profiles, prescription order entry, & fill prescriptions with acceptable speed and accuracy.
- Demonstrate knowledge of IV preparation and aseptic techniques.
- Use appropriate medical language to effectively communicate with members of the healthcare team.
- Demonstrate critical thinking skills needed to prioritize, anticipate and analyze problems, and to evaluate and implement solutions.
- Accurately apply mathematical principles required in the preparation and distribution of drugs.
- Communicate respectfully and professionally with co-workers, health care professionals, customers, patients, and their families.
- Use effective written and oral communication and listening skills in interactions with a diverse patient population.
- Understand and practice the professional work habits expected in a Pharmacy setting, including confidentiality and ethical practices.
- Practice within the professional and legal parameters for the role of a Pharmacy Technician.
- Possess a commitment to diversity and enhanced employability through the understanding and practice of human relations, teamwork, and patient service skills.
- Demonstrate the ability to research employment opportunities, prepare an effective employment package, including resume, and present oneself positively in a job interview.
- Identify and access professional organizations and continuing educational resources.
- Apply for a Pharmacy Technician License from the Washington State Board of Pharmacy.
- Identify the required information to successfully complete the required National Certification Exam to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician.
- Have knowledge of current Washington State Law as it applies to pharmacy.
Entry into the Program
Please apply at Enrollment Services to be admitted to Skagit Valley College and receive a student ID (SID). Attend an information session and fill out an Allied Health Education program application (see the Allied Health Education web page for dates: www.skagit.edu/alliedhealth). Admission and registration guidelines are listed in the catalog and on the college website. Some Allied Health Education programs can be completed on a part-time basis. Students must enter some programs only during certain quarters and follow the suggested schedule of courses to complete required course work. Registration for Medical Assistant cohort entries takes place in the fall and spring quarters, and requires meeting with an Allied Health Education faculty advisor. Some key courses are offered only during specific quarters of the year. Students are required to contact the Allied Health faculty advisors for help preparing their course schedules, as well as fill out the Allied Health Education program application.
It is strongly recommended that students be able to read, write and compute at college level and have basic keyboarding skills. Students lacking this preparation should consult an advisor for appropriate coursework to raise their skill level. Students should review schedules and course descriptions to check for prerequisites when planning their course of study.
Allied Health Education Program Website
For the most current overview about the Allied Health Education program and specific program information, please visit www.skagit.edu/alliedhealth.
Criminal background checks and illegal substance-illegal drug screens are required for all students entering Allied Health programs. This requirement is based on medical industry standards and Washington State laws protecting vulnerable populations (RCW 43.43.880 and 43.43.842). Drug screens and background checks are required by clinical agencies where students complete their clinical practicums. This screening occurs at the start of all Allied Health programs (AHE 130 for Pharmacy students and AHE 100 for all others). Students should be aware that certain gross misdemeanors and felonies may disqualify them from participating in clinical externships and prevent them from completing their certificate. Future employment opportunities in the health care field may also be affected. See program website for additional information.
Occupational Exposure: Students planning to enter any of the Allied Health Education programs need to know that, as a health care provider, they are at risk for exposure to blood borne pathogens.
The Medical Assistant ATA Degree/Certificate program prepares 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. Program graduates assist health care professionals in many aspects of medical practice, including patient care management, administrative, and clinical procedures such as: assisting with physical examinations, phlebotomy, administering injections, performing electrocardiograms and instrument sterilization. An experienced medical assistant might serve as an office administrator. Primary employers for medical assistants include: ambulatory health care settings, extended health care facilities, public health agencies, research institutes and medical insurance firms. All students in the Medical Assistant degree/certificate program take the same clinical training and administrative skill coursework. Upon graduating from the Medical Assistant degree or certificate program, students are eligible to take a national certification exam. This ATA degree requires 6 quarters of full-time attendance to complete the program of study. The certificate option also requires 6 quarters to complete.
The Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Certificate program prepares students for billing/coding careers in medical offices, hospitals, clinics, or insurance companies. Medical coding specialists learn the translation of written documentation of disease, injuries, and/or medical procedures into alphanumeric classifications. Currently, reimbursement for health care services is dependent on the assignment of codes to describe diagnoses, services, and procedures. In addition to coding, professional reimbursement specialists must learn the medical billing process to conform to individual insurance requirements, electronic billing procedures, and responsibilities associated with electronic data management. This certificate requires four to five quarters of full-time attendance to complete the program of study.
The Pharmacy Technician Certificate program prepares students for the role of support personnel in hospital, clinical, community, and other pharmacy settings. Working under the direction of a licensed pharmacist, Pharmacy Technicians provide assistance to the pharmacist in a variety of technical tasks involving the packaging, distribution, compounding, labeling, and recording of drugs. Students will receive training in drug products, calculations, dosages, dispensing techniques, inventory management, third-party billing, and Washington State pharmacy law. In addition to lecture, students will have hands-on training in a lab environment and an opportunity to complete a practicum experience. This certificate requires four to five quarters of full-time attendance to complete the program of study.
The Medical Secretary Certificate program prepares students to perform secretarial duties utilizing specific knowledge of medical terminology and hospital, clinic, or laboratory procedures. Employment is generally found in hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, and other medical care facilities. Duties include scheduling appointments, billing patients, and compiling and recording medical charts, reports, and correspondence, and other duties as assigned by the employer. Good English, oral and written communication skills, excellent human relations skills, and a typing speed of 40-60 words per minute are strongly recommended for successful job placement. This certificate requires four quarters of full-time attendance to complete the program of study.
Please note that specific duties of the Medical Assistant, Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, Medical Secretary, and Pharmacy Technician, may vary between medical settings depending on the facility’s specialty, size and location. See Dental Assistant and Veterinary Assistant sections 2for further information about these Allied Health program options.
Certifications and Licensure
The Medical Assistant program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org) upon the recommendation of Medical Assistant Education Review Board (MAERB). The address is Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), 25400 U.S. Highway 19 North, Suite 158, Clearwater, FL 33763; the phone number is (727) 210-2350 (www.caahep.org).
Upon successful completion of the Medical Assistant Certificate or ATA degree, graduates are then eligible to take a national certification exam approved by the Allied Health Department. Satisfactory completion of the national exam is a requirement to apply for certification in Washington State (RCW 18-360).
Medical Billing and Coding certificate program graduates are eligible to sit for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam. The CPC credential is one of the American Academy of Professional Coder’s (AAPC) national certification examinations for healthcare school graduates to demonstrate proficiency across a wide range of outpatient services using all codes sets (CPT, ICD-10-CM, and HCPCS).The address of the certifying organization is, AAPC 2233 S Presidents Drive, Suite F, Salt Lake City, UT 84120.
The Pharmacy Technician certificate program is endorsed by the Washington State Department of Health-Board of Pharmacy. This program meets or exceeds the goals and objectives of the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists and the approved Washington State Pharmacy Technicians Training competencies.
When eligible to do so, students will integrate classroom learning with a work-based learning/practicum experience. Medical Assistant and Pharmacy Technician students are placed into clinical practicums during their last quarter of study.
In order to be placed into the required practicum, student candidates must have completed all specified courses (varies with degree/certificate) with a minimum of ‘C’ grade and must meet the following general requirements:
- Negative TB test or chest X-ray
- Tetanus/diphtheria vaccination within last 10 years
- MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccination or positive titer (if born before 1957, this requirement does not apply, according to CDC recommendations and guidelines)
- Hepatitis B vaccination series. (All 3 doses)
- Current annual seasonal influenza immunization
- Current Healthcare Provider CPR and First Aid certificates
- Certificate of attendance at a 7-hour AIDS Prevention Seminar
- Medical Assistant students must present evidence of having current private medical insurance and must purchase professional liability insurance from the college before they will be placed into a practicum experience
- Any other requirements of a specific certificate or practicum site may apply.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand continues to be high for specialists in the healthcare field.
Dismissal and Re-entry Procedures
Once admitted to an Allied Health Education program, students must comply with the rules and regulations of the program and any of the clinical affiliates or be subject to dismissal from the program. See the Allied Health Student Handbook for more information.
Students must perform in a safe and competent manner in the clinical facilities and comply with the rules and regulation of the Allied Health Education department and clinical affiliates. Failure to do so may result in immediate dismissal from the clinical facility and the Allied Health Department. Unsafe practice in the clinical setting may result in a failing grade in the clinical practicum course.
Prior students not currently enrolled in the program who wish to re-enter must petition for readmission. Prior students who have not attended school for two or more quarters must meet with the department chair before continuing in the program. Selected courses may need to be repeated before a student will be placed in a clinical practicum. Practicum placement may be delayed due to full cohorts; students reentering may plan on being placed into the next available open practicum cohort group.
Medical Assistant Associate in Technical Arts Degree
An Associate of Technical Arts degree (ATA) is awarded upon the completion of a minimum of 90 credits. Students must complete the Medical Assistant certificate with a minimum 2.0 GPA in each course plus additional general education courses required for the certificate and ATA degree.
Program Certificates and Cohort Entry
Students must submit a completed application to the Allied Health department for entry into any Allied Health courses, or program cohort; pharmacy technician has an additional application for entry into the program which is submitted after prerequisites are completed. Students will meet with Allied Health faculty for course sequence planning.
Students can start Allied Health course work in any quarter, but AHE 101 must be taken the first quarter for entry into the Medical Assistant certificate or ATA degree program. For better course availability and completion in a timely manner, it is recommended that students enter during the designated quarter noted for a specific program.
A certificate is awarded to those students who complete the following with a minimum C grade or above in each course:
Allied Health Education Degrees and Courses
CoursesAllied Health Education