The Medical Assisting Technology (A.A.S.) associate degree program at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College has earned CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) accreditation. CAAHEP, the largest programmatic accreditor in the health sciences field, reviews and accredits over 2,000 educational programs in 28 health science occupations. CAAHEP is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
This programmatic accreditation for Medical Assisting Technology indicates that the associate degree program is held to higher standards than most. In order to achieve formal accreditation, the Medical Assisting program underwent heavy review and an intensive site visit from an independent, external team. This team evaluated various metrics, including, but not limited to: retention, placement in the field, employer satisfaction, instructional methodology, and faculty credentials. To maintain accreditation status, the Medical Assisting program must continue to meet these benchmarks.
Gaynelle Schmieder, Associate Professor of Health Care Professions and also filling the role of Medical Assisting Program Director, discusses the significance of this achievement.
“The CAAHEP accreditation process benefited our Medical Assisting program exponentially,” Schmeider said. “It helped us identify strengths, weaknesses, and focal points for improvement; all to ensure our graduates are prepared and confident to begin their careers when they leave Penn Highlands.”
Penn Highlands’ students will benefit the most from CAAHEP accreditation. Those that graduate from Penn Highlands with a Medical Assisting Technology degree will automatically be qualified to sit for the AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants) exam and become certified medical assistants. Medical assisting, a multi-skilled allied health profession, allows medical assistants to function as members of the health care delivery team by performing both administrative and clinical procedures.
“Pennsylvania Highlands certainly recognizes the critical need for highly skilled and trained medical professionals,” said Dr. Walter Asonevich, College President. “We are committed to ensuring academic excellence by offering programming that meets and exceeds national standards and places our graduates in the best possible employment situations.”
Funding to support preparations for meeting the CAAHEP accreditation standards was provided by a grant from Lee Initiatives. The Medical Assisting program at Penn Highlands Community College requires students to obtain at least 61 credits before they receive an associate degree.