The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Higher Education and Professional Practice


Master Plan Amendment: Plaza college, A.O.S. in Medical Assistant


October 8, 2004


Approval (Consent Agenda)


Master plan approval is required when an institution offers its first program in a new discipline area.


Goals 2 and 4






Plaza College, Jackson Heights, has requested amendment of its master plan in order to offer an Associate in Occupational Studies (A.O.S.) degree in Medical Assisting.  Master plan amendment is required because this would be the College’s first associate degree program in the discipline area of health professions.


The Department has determined that the proposed program, if approved, would meet the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.


Recommendation:  I recommend that the Regents take the following action:


VOTED, that Plaza College be authorized by master plan amendment, effective November 5, 2004, to offer the Associate in Occupational Studies (A.O.S.) degree in Medical Assisting.  This amendment will be effective until November 30, 2005, unless the program is registered by the Department prior to that date, in which case master plan amendment shall be without term.


Medical Assisting, A.O.S.


Academic Review


Plaza College, founded in 1916 and known as The College for Business Careers, offers associate degrees and certificate programs in diverse fields including but not limited to accounting, information sciences and computer operations.  The College is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges. The College proposes to increase its offerings with an Associate in Occupational Studies Degree in Medical Assisting.


The program’s design relies heavily on the competency requirements outlined by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).  The Medical Assisting associate degree program, like other associate degree programs, will strive to reinforce the College’s seven critical competencies:  oral and written communication, information literacy, an understanding of field of study, critical thinking, technical expertise, quantitative reasoning and problem solving, and legal and ethical responsibilities. These competencies, along with those outlined by the AAMA, will be reinforced as the College enters self-study for accreditation by the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs (CAAHEP) during the first year that the program is offered.


The proposed program can be completed in 6 quarters for a total of 90-quarter credits.  Seventy credits comprise the professional medical assisting courses; 12 credits are in liberal art requirements, and 3-18 credits are in open electives. All students will experience a mix of theory and practical experience that will include the study of clinical and administrative competencies in medical assisting with two practicum experiences of 380 hours.  Graduates of the program may qualify to be certified as medical assistants by the American Association of Medical Assistants (upon completion of their program and after the College receives initial accreditation), certified as coding assistants by the American Heath Information Management Association, and certified in First Aid and CPR by the American Red Cross.  Program graduates should be able to find positions such as medical assistants, medical records coders, health information clerks, coding assistants, and medical transcriptions or secretaries.


Applicants will need to have a high school diploma, general equivalency diploma or be a recognized candidate for the General Equivalency Diploma through the high equivalency program established by the State Education Department.  Students must successfully complete an admissions placement examination and the appropriate paperwork to complete the admissions process.  Candidates accepted in the medical assisting program will also be required to complete a physical exam and all required immunizations before entering the program.  Enrollment in the A.O.S. program in Medical Assisting is projected to be 100 students in its initial year increasing to 190 in its fifth year.


Plaza currently has a full-time Program Director with teaching responsibilities.  Initially, the program faculty will include the Program Director along with new and current part-time faculty.  As enrollment increases in the second year, additional faculty will be added.


Prior to the start of the proposed program, a new medical laboratory will be constructed on-site that will meet OSHA specifications.  The laboratory will be designed to simulate a medical setting and to provide privacy for the student while performing a skill such as EKG.  Clinical and lab equipment, instruments, and disposable clinical and administrative supplies will be acquired.  No further space will be needed to run the program, as current classrooms will be used for non-clinical studies.  The College has increased its library holdings to include print and electronic materials to support the proposed program, e.g., Alt HealthWatch, Medline, General Science Collection, MasterFILE Select, Academic Search Premier, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, Health Sources: Nursing/Academic Edition, Professional Development Collection, Newspaper Source, Health Source – Consumer Edition, Infotrac, College edition, the online library, Clinical Pharmacology, Communication & Mass Media Complete, American Humanities Index.


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of medical assistants is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2010. As the aging population increases, the health services industry will be expanding to meet those demands. Employment growth will be driven by the increase in the number of group practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities that need a high proportion of support personnel, particularly the medical assistant who can handle both administrative and clinical duties.


While medical assisting is projected to be the fastest growing occupation; health information assistants, medical record coders, and medical transcriptionists follow close behind with growth that is expected to be faster than average for all other occupations.  An abundance of jobs have been created since 2002 and are predicted for the next ten years in physicians’ offices, public and private hospitals, inpatient and outpatient facilities, ambulatory healthcare services, medical and diagnostic laboratories, nursing care facilities, and state and local government agencies.  Employers within the Queens area indicated a need for medical assistants and medical record coders who could work in the local hospitals and doctors’ offices.


Planning Review


Plaza College serves an adult population of commuter students from the tri-state area.  Seventy-two percent of the study body lives in Queens, 23 percent come from Brooklyn, and 5 percent reside in other boroughs.  Approximately 80 percent of the students are female.  Students attracted to the proposed program are expected to be from the Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn areas who find Plaza College to be conveniently located and easily accessible by many bus and subway lines.


A canvass was conducted of the New York City Region. There were twelve responses indicating no objection or negative impact on current academic offerings.