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This all-inclusive career in medical assisting guide is designed to help those interested in starting a career as a medical assistant learn more about WVJC’s programs, the current healthcare landscape, frequently asked questions, and more.

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About WVJC

West Virginia Junior College (WVJC) has been a trusted educator for West Virginia and the surrounding states for over 130 years. The first WVJC brick-and-mortar campus was established in 1892 in Charleston, West Virginia, and has since expanded to Morgantown, West Virginia, in 1922 and Bridgeport, West Virginia, in 2002. 

The hands-on career training that WVJC provides meets the needs of local employers and residents and has since been developed into an online delivery method known as WVJC Online. WVJC Online aims to allow students in rural areas of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky to gain a quality education from their homes.

With current program offerings in nursing, allied healthcare, and professional services, WVJC remains a trusted educator for those seeking training to enter these growing industries. 

WVJC’s unique approach to education allows each student to receive personalized support and high-quality career training taught by experienced faculty who uphold our core values and purpose. Every person within the organization is held to these fundamental values: Work Ethic, Exemplary, Caring, Accountability, Relationships, and Excellence (WE CARE). As a result, WVJC fulfills its purpose of empowering change by creating opportunity.

WVJC Core Values WVJC Purpose

WVJC Accreditation and Licensing

WVJC Morgantown

ABHES– West Virginia Junior College is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools to award diplomas and associate’s degrees. The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools contact information is 6116 Executive Blvd, Suite 730, North Bethesda, MD 20852, Phone (301) 291-7550.

CTCS– West Virginia Junior College is authorized to offer post-secondary education programs leading to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree in the state of West Virginia in accordance with its permit issued by the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education, 1018 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Suite 700, Charleston, WV 25301, (304) 558-0265 in accordance with Chapter 18B of the West Virginia State Code.

NC-SARA– Approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). For the most current list of NC-SARA member states and to determine if your state is a member state, visit the NC-SARA website.

WVJC Bridgeport

ABHES– West Virginia Junior College is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools to award diplomas and associate’s degrees. The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools contact information is 6116 Executive Blvd, Suite 730, North Bethesda, MD 20852, Phone (301) 291-7550.

CTCS– West Virginia Junior College Bridgeport campus is authorized to offer post-secondary education programs leading to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree in the state of West Virginia in accordance with its permit issued by the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education, 1018 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Suite 700, Charleston, WV 25301, (304) 558-0265 in accordance with Chapter 18B of the West Virginia State Code.

NC-SARA– Approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). For the most current list of NC-SARA member states and to determine if your state is a member state, visit the NC-SARA website.

WVJC Charleston

ABHES– West Virginia Junior College is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools to award diplomas and associate’s degrees. The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools contact information is 6116 Executive Blvd, Suite 730, North Bethesda, MD 20852, Phone (301) 291-7550.

CTCS– West Virginia Junior College is authorized to offer post-secondary education programs leading to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree in the state of West Virginia in accordance with its permit issued by the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education, 1018 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Suite 700, Charleston, WV 25301, (304) 558-0265 in accordance with Chapter 18B of the West Virginia State Code.

NC-SARA– Approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). For the most current list of NC-SARA member states and to determine if your state is a member state, visit the NC-SARA website.

A Medical Assistant’s Role In Healthcare

Medical Assistants are essential members of the healthcare team who assist nurses, physicians, and other medical team members with direct patient care tasks and administrative duties in a medical facility. 

The skill training medical assistants receive during their education qualifies them to perform hands-on medical functions, including phlebotomy, EKGs, collecting specimens for various tests, visual acuity tests, and more. The education also provides training in patient charting, processing insurance, office management, software usage, and other back-of-office skills to prepare them for administrative responsibilities. 

Medical Assistants are often one of the first people a patient encounters in certain medical facilities. Because of this, they are responsible for ensuring the patient’s experience becomes positive. The training a WVJC medical assisting student receives allows them to provide efficient and compassionate care to each patient in the facility. 

The need for qualified medical assistants is growing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing medical professional shortages, the current workforce aging and beginning to retire, and the aging baby boomer population requiring more medical care, a career in medical assisting can be a lucrative entry point to the healthcare field.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 16% growth in the nationwide employment of medical assistant professionals from 2021 to 2031. While local needs may differ from national averages, beginning a career in medical assisting can open doors for those who want to advance their career into other aspects of the healthcare field.

The WVJC Academic Process

In its more than 130 years of career training, WVJC has developed and evolved its academic process that allows each student’s experience to be adjusted to fit their individual needs. Our five-step process guides students through their time at WVJC using the following steps: Learn, Practice, Apply, Earn, and Start. 

Step One: Learn

In the first step of the process, students will begin their medical assisting courses and learn the essential knowledge and fundamental skills they need to be successful in the program and beyond in their careers. 

Step Two: Practice

In step two, students will then put the knowledge and skills they have learned in the classroom into practice during hands-on lab experiences conducted by experienced WVJC instructors.

Step Three: Apply

Then, in step three, students will apply the combination of knowledge and hands-on skills developed in the classroom and lab experiences in a real-world medical facility during an externship experience facilitated by WVJC’s academic team.

Step Four: Earn

In step four, students will conclude their program and prepare to sit for industry-specific National Healthcareer Association certification* exams. 

Step Five: Start

Upon completion of the program, graduate and be ready to start their new career in medical assisting as medical assistants.

Career In Medical Assisting Pathway
^See catalog for detailed eligibility requirements.
*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding certification exam.

Specialized Associate Degree in Clinical Medical Assistant

WVJC’s Clinical Medical Assistant program prepares students to enter a new career as medical assistants in only 18 months. This program is offered in both campus-based and online modalities, allowing students to choose the option that best fits their lives. Based out of the WCJC Bridgeport and WVJC Charleston campuses, the residential program provides students with in-person lectures and clinical experiences led by WVJC instructors.

The online training option, offered through the WVJC Online campus, combines flexible, virtual instruction with weekend, hands-on clinical experiences. Regardless of whether the student attends the program residentially or online, they will receive the same training in direct patient care tasks, administrative skills, and certification* preparation, and they will also complete a real-world externship. 

Upon completing the program, students will be conferred a Specialized Associate Degree in Clinical Medical Assistant, combined with the National Healthcareer Association certifications the program prepares students to sit for they would be qualified to enter the workforce as medical assistants.

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding certification exam.

9-Month and 12-Month Diploma in Medical Assisting Program Options

Students who would like to enter their career in medical assisting in less time have the opportunity to complete the Medical Assisting diploma program in only nine months. This accelerated option provides students with the same level of training and hands-on experiences as the degree program; however, students can expect the program to be completed at a more rigorous pace to complete it in half the time.

The 9-month training option is available to students at the WVJC Bridgeport and WVJC Charleston campuses, where they will receive on-campus instruction and clinical experiences and then complete an externship at a local healthcare facility. Additionally, students in the 9-month program will be prepared to sit for National Healthcareer Association certification* exams. 

Students can also enroll in the standard 12-month diploma program. This option allows students to complete their education and enter the workforce faster than the 18-month degree option while being slightly less demanding than the 9-month diploma program.

This option is available at the WVJC Bridgeport and Charleston campuses, which is beneficial for students who enter the 9-month diploma program and find they need additional time to complete it. Additionally, it is also available through WVJC Online.

Those who complete this program will earn a Diploma in Medical Assisting. Along with passing the industry-specific certifications students will prepare for throughout the program will qualify them for positions in the medical assisting field.

An added benefit of attending this 9-month program option is that students have the opportunity to get trained to enter the workforce quickly, begin their careers, and start earning an income. Then, if they wish, they can return and complete their associate degree through WVJC Online.

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding certification exam.

WVJC Medical Assisting to Registered Nursing Pathway

WVJC offers a Medical Assisting to Registered Nursing Pathway that allows students to complete medical assisting courses to gain valuable healthcare knowledge and skills, graduate, start working in the field, and earn an income. Then, while working, they can start classes to become a nurse. 

Starting a career as a medical assistant also benefits students because it allows them to get accustomed to working in the healthcare field and gain medical experience before entering a rigorous nursing training program.

In addition, WVJC Alums who have completed a medical assisting training program and choose to return to nursing school are eligible for a Nursing Pathway Scholarship^ to assist with the financial aspect of attending nursing school.

Career As A Medical Assistant Pathway

^See catalog for detailed eligibility requirements.
*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding certification exam

The National Healthcareer Association

As a part of the training that WVJC medical assisting students receive, they will be prepared to sit for the National Healthcareer Association certification exams.

The National Healthcareer Association is a nationally recognized certification agency that has been granting allied healthcare professionals industry-specific certifications for over 30 years. In today’s healthcare environment, most employers recognize and encourage their applicants to possess certifications specific to their field. 

Earning a National Healthcareer Association certification proves to employers that the candidate has been evaluated and deemed that their skill and competency level meet nationally recognized standards.

With preparation for these certification exams incorporated into WVJC’s curriculum, our graduates can have an advantage over their competitors in the hiring process who may not have earned certification. 

Students in both WVJC’s Clinical Medical Assistant program and Medical Assisting diploma program will be prepared to sit for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant* exam, the Certified EKG Technician** exam, and the Certified Phlebotomy Technician** exam. 

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding certification exam. Required/Included in Tuition/Fees.
**Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding certification exam. Optional at own expense.

Applying Your Degree or Diploma

Because medical assisting students are trained in many aspects of healthcare, they are qualified for positions in an array of medical facilities. Some of the most common places medical assistants can find position openings include family medicine practices, outpatient clinics, hospitals, laboratories, and more.

Within these facilities, positions may be available for medical assistants to apply certain aspects of their training over others. For example, one position may focus on obtaining patient vitals, while another may be more involved in scheduling or software usage.

Regardless of how medical assistants apply their skills in the medical field, they will be an essential part of the healthcare team. They can expect to work closely with doctors, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse aids, and other healthcare professionals to ensure the medical facility runs smoothly and the patient receives the best possible care. 

Benefits of Attending WVJC

WVJC’s unique educational approach allows students to complete their degree or diploma in an environment where they feel supported, all while gaining valuable hands-on skills and experience needed to be successful in their careers. The WVJC team understands that students are busy and must balance their personal lives, families, work schedules, and more with their education.

This is why WVJC puts the student experience at the forefront of our education model. Regardless of whether you choose to attend a campus-based or online program, you can expect to receive the same high level of support and benefits during your time at WVJC.

One significant advantage to attending WVJC versus a traditional college is our direct admission approach, meaning students will save time and money by entering classes directly related to medical assisting from the beginning of their time as a student.

The curriculum is designed in an accelerated format, which means rather than being organized by semesters with long breaks between, WVJC students will complete courses in 6-week increments, allowing them to cover more material in less time. Students can expect to be challenged in their education and receive support from their academic team when needed. 

Another aspect of attending WVJC that benefits students is the hands-on training component they will receive. During classroom instruction, students will learn the fundamental knowledge and basic skills that they will then apply during labs and clinical experiences supervised by their instructors.

In addition, preparation for National Healthcareer Association certification* exams is incorporated directly into the program curriculum, allowing students to work toward taking and passing their industry-specific exams.

Toward the end of the program, students will also complete an externship with a local healthcare employer where they will put their knowledge and skills into practice in a real-world environment with actual patients. 

Throughout their time as a student and beyond, WVJC offers access to support through our career services department. The WVJC career management team provides students with academic and personal support, including resume assistance, interview preparation, tutoring, and more.

They will also assist in organizing your externship experience. WVJC alums will also have continued access to the career management team for career guidance and industry refresher courses at no additional tuition cost. 

WVJC knows how essential the education students receive can be, so we ensure that from the first time a student reaches out to WVJC through graduation and beyond, they are provided with exceptional support and resources

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What does a medical assistant do?
A: Medical assistants are trained in direct patient care tasks such as phlebotomy, EKGs, vitals, injections, and more, as well as administrative tasks, including electronic health records, insurance processing, software usage, and more. This wide variation of skills qualifies them to perform various tasks within the medical facility. 

Q: How long is a medical assisting program?
A: At WVJC, Clinical Medical Assistant degree program students will complete their training in 18 months. Select campuses also offer 9-month and 12-month Medical Assisting diploma options. According to Med Career Now, the average medical assisting program can take between 9 months and two years to complete.

Q: What is the difference between a Clinical Medical Assistant program and a Medical Assisting program?
A: Students who complete the Clinical Medical Assistant program will be conferred a Specialized Associate Degree in Clinical Medical Assistant, whereas students in the Medical Assisting program will earn a Medical Assisting Diploma. Students in either program will receive the same preparation to sit for several National Healthcareer Association certification* exams.

Do you still have questions about medical assisting? Request Information or contact us to speak with a WVJC admissions team member for the opportunity to ask specific questions!

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding certification exam.

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Scholarship Information

Scholarship Information

Scholarships are available for many of our programs and vary by location.