heartFAQs for Medical Assisting

1. What do MAs do?
     a. Medical Assistants are the most flexible, broadly trained health care professionals. They are trained in both administrative and clinical skills.
     b. Administrative skills: Schedule and manage appointments, bookkeeping procedures, process insurance claims, respond to and initiate written and verbal communication, perform telephone and in-person screening, identify and respond to confidentiality issues, perform diagnostic and procedural medical coding.
     c. Clinical skills: Practice safe and aseptic techniques in lab and perform diagnostic tests for the physician’s office, perform venipuncture and capillary punctures, EKGs and respiratory testing, obtain vital signs, demonstrate clinical pharmacology to advise patients, calculate dosages using algebraic skills, administer injections, and assist physician with office procedures.

2. How do I know what classes to take in the MA program?
     a. You should consult with your advisor and follow the program requirements in the recommended sequence for full-time students in the current student catalog. All developmental courses and the prerequisite course must be completed first.
     b. The core Medical Assisting classes (MAS) are not taken on a part-time basis. These classes need to be taken consecutively to build on the information presented in the previous semester. You must achieve a grade of C to continue in the program. Be sure to check the grading scale in the syllabus.

3. Like all of the Health Professions at Westmoreland, you are applying to the program and need acceptance into that program to start the actual classes. The deadline for the fall program start is January 5. However, you may start your initial testing into Westmoreland at any time. You could then get started on some of the other classes early. For example, most students never realize that algebra skills are needed for this program since a math course is not listed.
     a. You must be accepted into the program to be eligible for the actual MAS classes.

4. Do I really need to send my high school transcript? 
     a. Yes. Your final OFFICIAL high school transcript is a mandatory requirement for the admission procedure. Do not assume for any reason that the college has your transcript…check with Admissions. The high school transcript is still required even if a student has a bachelor’s degree. It is always best to check with the Office of Admissions to confirm that your transcript is on file. To check the status of your high school transcript you can contact Admissions at 724-925-4077.

5. When do the MA classes run? (Sequence indicated in your student catalog; times vary) Currently:
     a. First semester-MAS 100: T 8 am-9:20 am, TH 8 am-11:20 am.
     b. Second semester-MAS 105: Online; MAS 110 T 8am-9:20 am, TH 8 am-11:20 am.
     c. Third semester- MAS 120 M-F at Westmoreland County Community College designated clinical or physician office sites.

6. MAs give injections, phlebotomy, and EKGs (electrocardiograms), do we practice on real people and do I have to volunteer?
     a. The MA classes in invasive skills start with practice arms, etc. Once the skills are demonstrated, they are perfected in the classroom with each student being both the MA and the patient. Students are limited to two injections (IM or SQ), IDs, and phlebotomies each lab session per student. Although you learn the proper gauge needles and syringes to use, we have smaller needles for practice. All students participate in this practice.
     b. Students practice EKGs on a simulated patient.

7. How do I know what health records are needed?
     a. If you are accepted into the program, you will receive notice of the orientation meeting. The program director will distribute and explain the required health forms. Those forms will clearly indicate the deadline for submission of that information. You will have drug tests, fingerprinting, Act 33/34 clearance, physical exam, any immunizations that need to be updated (Tdap, HBV, two-step PPD) CPR/First Aid class, and liability insurance before starting the program. All results must be received before the start of the program.
     b. You must have completed your HBV injection series before your second semester when we start invasive skills and working with bloodborne products.
     c. The completion of health records, immunizations, purchase of uniforms, and textbooks is a large amount of money at the start of the program. Be sure to consider day care, travel, and parking arrangements.

8. Do I need a uniform?
     a. Yes, during your orientation you will receive a dress code and uniform requirements. There are rigid guidelines for professional appearance.

9.  Do I need a stethoscope, B/P cuff?
     a. You will be required to purchase a specific Westmoreland Medical Assisting scrub set.
     b. You will learn vital signs during your first semester and may chose to purchase your own stethoscope, B/P cuff, and watch with a second hand. The school has equipment that you will use otherwise.

10.  What if I cannot attend class during the scheduled days?
     a. Attendance, appearance, attitude, and class participation are part of the grading scale for MA classes. You will lose points if you are not in class. If you have a written excuse and it is accepted, you may receive partial credit. Laboratory and clinical attendance are mandatory.

11. Are MA classes offered in other locations (Green, Indiana, Fayette)?
     a. MAS 105 is online (essays, exams, and CDs from the textbook are used), but the face-to-face lectures and labs are not available in other locations yet.

12. MAS 120 (Clinical Practicum) is conducted in physician offices and outpatient areas of hospitals and is not available for students in the evening.
     a. Working students have used vacation time and have worked weekends to complete their MAS 120 semester.

13. When I complete the program, where can I work?
     a. Usually MAs (Medical Assistants) work in physician offices, group practices, clinics, and urgent care facilities. Some hospitals hire MAs as phlebotomists, unit clerks, patient care techs, lab assistants, and EKG technicians.

14. Do I have to arrange for my own MAS 120 clinical (practicum) sites?
     a. WCCC will assign and monitor the sites for your phlebotomy and clinical experience.

15. Do I need to take the certification exam?

     a. Yes, many employers are not interviewing applicants until they have proof of their certification. Application and payment for the CMA (AAMA) certification is part of your graduation requirements.
     b. The link for certification information is: http://www.aama-ntl.org/becomeCMA
     c. You may also sit for the CMAS, Certified Medical Administrative Specialist, and the RPT, Registered Phlebotomy Technician, credentials.


Amy Voytek, MBA/MHA, MT, CT, RMA
Director Medical Assisting, Phlebotomy and Specimen Processing Programs
145 Pavilion Lane, Science Hall Suite 3212, Youngwood, PA 15697

To request an application packet, contact:
the Admissions Office, admissions@westmoreland.edu