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NHA CCMA | Medical Assisting

Clinical Medical Assistant Curriculum: How to Build Yours

April 6th, 2022 | 6 min. read

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The Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification is one of the most important health science certifications in the country right now. Hospitals, private practices, and clinics are all fighting to hire new CCMAs.

As a medical assistant instructor, it’s up to you to prepare your students for their in-demand careers.

You want them to succeed in the workforce, which takes more than just helping them pass the CCMA certification exam.

To truly give your students the skills to excel in the field, you need a well-built clinical medical assistant curriculum.

To provide a great curriculum to your high school students, there are two things you’ll have to decide:

  1. What to include in your curriculum
  2. Which instructional materials to use

We’ll start with what to include in your medical assistant curriculum.

1. What to Include in Your Clinical Medical Assistant Curriculum


When a health science instructor is teaching a course related to an NHA certification like the one for certified clinical medical assistant (CCMA), they think they only need to cover what will be on the exam.

While that’s a great starting point, there are a few other things to consider including before jumping right into exam mode.

Review Your Course Standards

One way to come up with teaching ideas is to check your standards.

What does your district or state require you to teach in the course? That’s always a solid place to start when planning your syllabus.

If you don’t have specific course standards you are required to follow, don’t worry — you’re not out of luck!

Talk about Health Science Basics

Your students come from different backgrounds. That means there could be some differences in their foundational health science knowledge.

It’s important to review foundational information to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Start by providing a refresher of the basics of health science. This is key to make sure all of your students are up to par before diving into specifics related to clinical medical assisting.

Your lessons could include refreshers on medical terminology, health care systems, or anatomy and physiology.

Then, talk about an underrated area of health science courses — the soft skills that professionals use when interacting with patients.

Touching on skills such as communication and empathy will take your students to the next level in being ready for working with patients!

Last, you can jump into the role of a clinical medical assistant.

This final piece of your curriculum is crucial to your students’ success. It’s where they’ll discover whether a career as a CCMA is right for them or if they need to start looking at something else!

Reference the CCMA Certification Exam

After reviewing your standards and covering the fundamentals, it’s time to check out the details of the CCMA exam.

There is sure to be some crossover between your standards and the exam, but be on the lookout for topics that weren’t included in the standards.

The NHA updates its certification exam more frequently than state and district standards change, so filling those gaps in learning is crucial to helping your students succeed!

2. How to Choose Instructional Materials for Your Curriculum


Now that you have some ideas of what to teach in your course, it’s time to find some medical assistant teaching materials for your curriculum!

There are a number of options out there, such as:

  • Certification prep materials
  • Textbooks and supplements
  • Free resources
  • Curriculum software

Depending on your preferences and how your students learn best, you can use any combination of these instructional materials.

The tough part is figuring out which ones will work best for you.

NHA CCMA Exam Prep Materials

Since your students most likely plan to take the CCMA exam through NHA at the end of your course, it’s smart to use exam prep materials like study guides and practice tests to get them ready.

Luckily, NHA makes these medical assistant teaching materials available to everyone. And because the certification is from NHA, you know the materials will always be up to date and related to the actual exam.

Still, these materials shouldn’t be the only resource you use to teach your clinical medical assisting classes.

While your students will be ready for the test, they won’t see the foundational knowledge and workplace skills they need on the exam.

Clinical Medical Assistant Textbooks

Textbooks have been a staple in health science classrooms for years, and CCMA classes are no exception.

Some of the most common textbooks that medical assisting teachers use include:

  • Medical Assisting: Administrative and Clinical Procedures
  • Clinical Procedures for Medical Assistants
  • Pearson’s Comprehensive Medical Assisting
  • Today’s Medical Assistant
  • Kinn’s Medical Assisting Fundamentals

Textbooks often form the backbone of a medical assisting class. Most teachers and administrators are familiar with textbooks, and they usually have a professional relationship with a textbook company.

This makes textbooks a no-brainer when it comes to any kind of curriculum.

Besides, every class has a textbook. Right?

Plus, textbooks include supplemental medical assistant teaching materials that provide more reinforcement information to students.

Last, homework is easy when using a textbook – just assign pages to read and then discuss them in the next class!

But textbooks cause a problem in health science because of how often the health care industry changes.

If the certification requirements or industry standards change, your textbook is instantly outdated and you’ll need to scramble to find up-to-date information.

Free High School Medical Assistant Curriculum Resources

Some medical assistant instructors like to expand their horizons and find free resources online. While there are a ton of health science resources online, there aren’t many for medical assisting.

Most online information is geared toward post-secondary students who want to start careers as medical assistants, rather than resources you can use in the classroom.

CTE Online is one of the only online resources that offers anything for medical assisting in high school.

They have a lot of materials and ideas included in what they call the “Medical Assistant Model (Advanced Healthcare Administrative Services) - CTE Online Model.”

You can read a review of the curriculum here to decide if it would work in your classroom: A Review of CTE Online’s Medical Assistant Curriculum

Curriculum Software for Medical Assistant Classes

Many high school health science instructors have started using digital curriculum software as a base for their CCMA classes.

Much like a textbook, curriculum software provides a great base of information for students to learn either in class or at home.

A good digital curriculum also includes a ton of supporting materials like guided notes, teacher presentations, and hands-on skills sheets.

But the biggest difference between software and textbooks is that a digital curriculum is updated much more frequently (and at a much lower price point).

If industry standards change for a procedure, the curriculum developer can immediately update the software with the latest information. Even better, these updates are made automatically in the system - no need to order anything new!

For a textbook, you’ll have to throw it out and get the newest one. If you work in the kind of high school that buys a textbook for every student, that’s thousands of dollars.

Prepare the Next Generation of CCMAs in Your Classroom


In this article, you discovered two of the biggest factors you need to consider when building your CCMA curriculum. However, building a great curriculum is only the first step to helping your students earn their certifications. 


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