If you've been searching for information about online medical assisting programs you will have probably found links to St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants.
They have a very high presence on the web, so we felt it was an important school that we should review.
In order to prepare for the review I sent them the following 7 questions...
Questions emailed to St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants:
- Your website says students can complete your home study program "in as little as 6-8 weeks" - what percentage of students successfully complete the program in 8 weeks or less?
- Some of the topics your website says are covered in your program include: EKG, Lab Testing, Specimen Collection, Medication injections, Measuring A Pulse - how do you teach these subjects online?
- Do you offer externships as part of your program for students to gain practical experience?
- Which recognized qualifications or certificates are your graduates eligible for?
- Which organizations have accredited your Medical Assistant Program?
- How do you respond to the allegations by Legal Eye On Medical Assisting that some of your advertising is misleading?
- What percentage of your students gain employment as a Medical Assistant after completing your program?
The answers we received:
Yes that's correct, it's now more than a week since I emailed them the questions listed above, and no one from St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants has replied. I waited 3 additional days after when I told them we would be publishing this article to give them additional time to respond, before actually publishing it today.
I find it disappointing that this school has decided not to respond to us, as the questions listed above are important ones that address the most important question of all, "If I pay for this course will it help me get a job as a Medical Assistant"?
As you read through our analysis below, you'll see that we have been unable to find a positive answer to this question.
They say they are accredited by the National Accreditation and Certification Board (NACB). We checked their website and the NACB states that they accredit "Alternative Holistic Health schools". The work done by doctors and their medical assistants is not 'alternative' - it is mainstream science based medicine. The NACB is not recognized as a formal college accreditation body in the U.S. by either the Council on Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education. We view this accreditation as being essentially worthless.
Most importantly - St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants is Not Accredited for the CMA or RMA Exams.
While it is perfectly reasonable for online schools to provide training in areas such as Administration, Record Keeping, Medical Billing and Medical Coding, it is not reasonable to expect that they can train you to use complex equipment or perform procedures on patients such as Injections or Phlebotomy online - these topics require hands on experience. Their website FAQ has the question "How are basic Medical Assistant clinical tasks taught online?" but they only mention their use of "innovative internet based technology" and they provide no information about what this technology is or how it works. We don't believe some of the classes they offer can be taught effectively over the internet.
Employment Prospects for Graduates
Not only did they fail to answer our question 7 above, but they also fail to answer a similar question in their own FAQ; "Will employers treat my certificate any different because I earned it online?" to which they avoid offering a direct response, instead they provide generic, unqualified information saying "current studies show distance education to be more effective than older traditional classroom methods". If they are unable to answer this question satisfactorily then we are forced to consider that the reason is probably because they can't provide a truthful answer that they want people to read.
We would very much have liked an answer to question 6 above, because the article we referenced, which was written by Donald A. Balasa - executive director and legal counsel for the American Association of Medical Assistants - makes some serious allegations about the legitimacy of St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants.
Here are just some of the comments we have found about the school which range from relatively recent to several years ago:
Until the St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants responds to the questions and concerns outlined above, I cannot provide a positive recommendation for them.