Jul 07, 2022  
2020-2021 Catalog SVC 
2020-2021 Catalog SVC [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Allied Health Education

Program Overview

The Allied Health Education (AHE) designation includes all courses required for certificates offered in Medical Assistant, Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, and Pharmacy Technician. A two-year Medical Assistant 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 an important role on the healthcare team. 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.

Degree and Certificate Options:

Associate in Applied Science Degree

An Associate in Applied Science Degree, AAS is awarded upon completion of a minimum of 90 credits of specified technical and related education coursework above 100-level with both an overall 2.0 grade point average and a 2.0 grade point average in the technical major.

Medical Assistant, Associate in Applied Science, Planning Guide  


The Medical Assistant AAS Degree /Medical Assistant 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 AAS degree requires 7 quarters of full-time attendance to complete the program of study. The Medical Assistant, AAS 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 AAS degree. A certificate is awarded to those students who complete the required courses with a minimum C grade or above in each course.

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, and has 18-20 credits of prerequisite course requirements prior to fall entry. A certificate is awarded to those students who complete the required courses with a minimum C grade or above in each course.

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, and has 15-20 credits of prerequisite course requirements prior to fall entry. A certificate is awarded to those students who complete the required courses with a minimum C grade or above in each course.

Please note that specific duties of the Medical Assistant, Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, and Pharmacy Technician, may vary between medical settings depending on the facility’s specialty, size and location. See Dental Assistant  and Veterinary Assistant  sections for further information about these Allied Health program options.

Learning Outcomes:

General Education Learning Outcomes  

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Medical Assistant program will be able to:

Knowledge (Cognitive):

  • Demonstrate knowledge of foundational theory in clinical and administrative standards as it applies to the Medical Assistant’s scope of practice.

  • Apply law and ethics to the medical assisting scope of practice and patient care.

Psychomotor (Skills):

  • Perform clinical and administrative skills accurately and consistently.

  • Demonstrate the ability to manage workflow given varied patient scenarios and clinical situations.

Affective (Behaviors):

  • Recognize the medical needs of diverse populations; demonstrate cultural competence and appropriate communication with patients and the healthcare team.

  • Model the qualities of valued healthcare team professionals.

Graduates of the Medical Billing and Coding Specialist program will be able to:

  • Interpret health record documentation using knowledge of anatomy and physiology, disease process, pharmacology, and medical terminology to accurately assign diagnostic and/or procedural codes, including modifiers, according to current coding and reporting requirements to optimize reimbursement.

  • Utilize ICD-10-CM, CPT, and HCPCS coding manuals to correctly code diagnoses, services, procedures, supplies, materials, injections, and durable medical equipment.

  • Accurately perform administrative tasks, including bookkeeping procedures and completion of clerical and operational forms.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of managed care and other health insurance types and specify how they differ from traditional billing methods of private medical practice.

  • Accurately prepare UB-04 and CMS-1500 claim forms for submission in a manner that will minimize rejection by insurance companies.

Graduates of the Pharmacy Technician program will be able to:

  • Accurately and precisely, interpret and fill prescriptions from start to finish.

  • Explain the top 200 drugs including brand to generic, classification and associated disease states.

  • Perform sterile and non-sterile compounding procedures safely and to industry requirements.

  • Practice ethically and within the laws governing pharmacy practice both nationally and in Washington State.

  • Demonstrate foundational knowledge of standards for pharmacy waste management practices, safety, and controlled substance handling.

Program Accreditation:

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 AAS 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. Students completing the Pharmacy Technician program will be able to sit for the national Pharmacy Technician Certification exam.

Program Admissions:

Please apply at Enrollment Services  or online at www.skagit.edu/getstarted 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. Some Allied Health Education programs have prerequisite courses that must be completed prior to entering.

Registration for Medical Assistant cohort entries takes place in the fall and winter 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. Students are encouraged to meet with Allied Health Education faculty as early as possible for the best program planning.

Students must submit a completed application to the Allied Health Education department for entry into any Allied Health Education courses, or program cohort; Pharmacy Technician has an additional application for entry into the program which is submitted to indicate prerequisite completion plan. Students will meet with Allied Health Education faculty for course sequence planning.

Students can start Allied Health Education course work in any quarter, but cohort schedules must be followed. 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. Some programs only have one annual entry.

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.

Program Dismissal and Re-entry

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. Students who have not attended for four quarters prior to practicum placement may be required to retake clinical, core program, and/or science courses that have regularly updated curriculum. AHE 199 may be used in place of required/repeated coursework at the Department Chair and/or Program Director’s discretion. Students will be assessed based on past performance, current performance and experience, and then given an individualized remediation plan of courses to become practicum eligible. Practicum placement may be delayed due to full cohorts; students reentering may plan on being placed into the next available open practicum cohort group.

Specialized Program Information:

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.

Program Notes

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). All students participating in clinical placement for practicum will complete an additional drug screening immediately prior to entering clinical practicum. 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 or degree. 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. 

Work-Based Learning

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.

Medical Billing and Coding Specialists begin an online practicum experience during their last quarter of study; completion of this practicum will remove the apprentice designation from their AAPC CPC credential when they pass the national exam.

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 within one year;

  • 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 doses);

  • Current annual seasonal influenza immunization;

  • Current American Heart Association BLS credential and First Aid certificate;

  • 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.