PENDLETON --- A perfect pass rate on the American Association of Medical Assistants’ Certification Examination is a proud moment for Tri-County Technical College’s most recent Medical Assisting graduates and for the College, said Medical Assisting Program Director Laura McClain. 


All 14 graduates of the Class of 2017 received a passing score on the exam and are designated as Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs). 


“I’m very proud,” said McClain.  “This is a rigorous and challenging program, and students must be committed,” she said.  “Their scores are a compliment to the College, the faculty and to the students themselves.”   


“Achieving a perfect pass rate is the ultimate goal every year,” said McClain, who added that two students -- one in 2014 and another in 2016 -- earned individual perfect scores on the exam.  “This year’s 100 percent group pass rate is a testament to the caliber of the Tri-County Technical College graduates,” she added.




During the exam, students are tested on three components: general, administrative and clinical.  There are 200 questions on the exam, she said. 


Students prepare all year for the exam, she said, by training to be good test takers.  For the past two years, in the capstone lecture course, students take mock exams twice a week. “This introduces them to the types of questions and the format of the national exam,” she said.


 Medical Assisting is a unique program because unlike most health care programs students are trained in both administrative and clinical procedures, said McClain.


Medical assisting duties are a good mix of clinical and administrative work, she explained.  Graduates are cross trained in every area of ambulatory care.  Their duties range from hands-on patient care, under physician and nursing supervision, to front office duties.


Clinical training includes checking a patient’s vital signs, phlebotomy, giving medications, EKGs, laboratory work, specimen collection and processing and assisting with minor surgical procedures.  They also are certified in first aid and CPR while in the program.   “It’s an unusual discipline with a strong administrative function including insurance coding and claims processing,” she said. 


“During the externships, we try to place our students in a family medicine practice so they will get experience ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics.  This produces a well-rounded graduate.”

“Medical assistants wear every hat in the office,” she said.  “Every day is not the same. They are health care’s most versatile employee.”


Graduates work in a variety of doctor’s offices, such as cardiology, neuroscience units, internal medicine, OB-GYN and dermatology.  “The possibilities are endless for our graduates,” McClain said.


The department boasts of a 100 percent job placement rate.  “The job market for medical assistants is thriving and at least 50 percent of our students are placed into jobs before graduating.  It’s not uncommon for the externship to develop into full-time employment,” she said.


Tri-County’s Medical Assisting program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs through 2019.


For more information about the program, contact Laura McClain, program director, at 646-1352 or at