Student’s Pursuit of Master’s Degree Began with Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate

Makenna Wilcoxson

Makenna Wilcoxson, Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate Graduate

While in her junior year of a public health undergraduate program at SDSU, Makenna Wilcoxson entered the Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate program at SDSU’s College of Extended Studies. Her goal was to earn extra money for college as well as clinical hours in preparation for physician assistant school.

“In order to qualify for PA school, many schools require paid patient clinical hours,” said Wilcoxson. “That’s difficult to acquire without previous medical training and only an educational background. I knew I needed to gain professional training.”

SDSU’s Clinical Medical Assistant program gave her the training she needed to acquire those clinical hours, and Wilcoxson is now ready to apply to a master’s degree program as a physician assistant. We trace her journey.

What do you think are the strengths of the Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate program?
The program prepares students for job duties that may be presented to them while working for a variety of clinics. The program also arranges an externship — tailored to each student — to get hands-on experience before entering the workforce. As a direct result of this program, I assisted in the care of a wide array of patients, worked as an integral component to an interdisciplinary medical practice, and expanded my medical experience.

Another strength of the program is that the hours are at night and twice a week. If students work or are taking classes, this can accommodate their schedule.

How long did it take to complete the program and was it difficult to juggle with your undergraduate studies?
The program took about five to six months. It was difficult at times to complete both my undergraduate coursework and the goals of the program. However, I found that overall it was practical to manage. I recommend that students have a strong sense of time management and multi-tasking skills.

Can you speak to the caliber of the instructors?
My instructor was highly professional, informative and educated. She had many years of experience in the field of health care. She offered practice support and advice to students.

How was your externship experience?
My externship employer was the Senta Clinic and my duties were to medically scribe for the physician assistant and doctor on staff. They hired me after I completed 150 hours, which took me over a year. I just gained employment at a cancer center in La Jolla where I’m getting clinical experience, which for my path is integral. I have over 1,500 clinical patient hours that I can directly attribute to this accreditation. I’m so thankful for this program.

Would you recommend the Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate Program to others?
Yes, I would recommend this program to others. It’s well rounded, professional and innovative. It trains students with EKG, vaccinations, HIPPA policies, etc. The program can really help open many doors for students — whether it’s getting medical assistant licensure or going on to further your medical profession. The externship is a great way to get your foot in the door. Students leave the program with 150-160 hours of medical experience. This looks great on a résumé.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I would like to say that this program helped me gain access to the field of health care while completing my degree. It opened many doors early on for me. My résumé and work experience are now prepared prior to my college graduation.