How to Build a NOCTI Medical Assisting Curriculum

The NOCTI Medical Assisting (MA) exam measures students’ knowledge and skills needed to work as a medical assistant.

Medical assistants are one of the most in-demand healthcare careers across the United States, so getting your students ready for the NOCTI MA exam is crucial.

To do that, you’ll need a great medical assisting curriculum aligned to the NOCTI MA exam.

But how do you even get started?

Overall, there are six key steps to build your NOCTI medical assisting curriculum:

  1. Learn the details of the NOCTI MA exam
  2. Review your course standards
  3. Decide if your students will take the AMCA CMAC exam
  4. Connect with local healthcare providers
  5. Choose your instructional materials
  6. Build your curriculum

We’ll start with the most important step first -- knowing what’s on the NOCTI MA exam!

1. Learn the Details of the NOCTI MA Exam


Before you can even think about creating a curriculum based on the NOCTI Medical Assisting exam, you need to know what’s on it!

After all, how can you create a curriculum without knowing what topics you need to teach?

The NOCTI MA exam is made up of a written test and skills demonstration assessment.

The written test contains 197 questions across seven healthcare topic areas:

  1. Medical Office Procedures
  2. Foundations for Healthcare
  3. General Laboratory Procedures and Diagnostic Testing
  4. Clinical Practices and Patient Care
  5. Medical Assisting Safety
  6. Patient Instruction
  7. Medical Law and Ethics for Healthcare

Each area includes a number of detailed standards and competencies students need to know for the exam, and every question is multiple choice.

After the written test is complete, students move onto the skills demonstration portion.

For the skills demonstration, students are measured on their ability to complete six medical assisting tasks:

  1. Positioning
  2. Blood Pressure and Pulse Measurement
  3. Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  4. Visual Acuity Screening
  5. Lab Requisition Form
  6. Applying and Removing Sterile Gloves

During the skills demonstrations, students must act as if they are working with a real patient and should be completely professional.

Once you’ve got the details of the NOCTI MA exam down, it’s time to move onto step two!

2. Review Your Medical Assisting Course Standards


You want to prepare your students for the NOCTI MA exam, but your medical assisting course probably has other requirements as well.

These requirements often come in the form of state, district, or school standards.

Some states, like Florida and Texas, have state-wide health science standards, which means every health science program across the state teaches the same content.

In other states, course standards may vary from district to district.

Either way, it’s important to ask your CTE administrator about your specific medical assisting course standards.

If you need to meet those requirements, it’s crucial to include them in your curriculum!

Once you have a handle on the exam requirements and your course standards, it’s time to decide if your students should take an additional medical assisting exam.

3. Decide If Your Students Will Take the AMCA CMAC Exam


Did you know the NOCTI MA exam is a prerequisite for the American Medical Certification Association’s Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (AMCA CMAC) exam?

The AMCA is an NCCA-accredited organization dedicated to developing quality healthcare professionals through their wide range of certification options.

One of the most popular certifications by the AMCA is their Clinical Medical Assistant Certification exam.

The CMAC exam measures students’ knowledge and skills required to work as a certified clinical medical assistant, just like the NOCTI MA exam.

Students who pass both the NOCTI MA and AMCA CMAC exams have an advantage when searching for jobs compared to students who only have one certification. That little bit extra is a great way for students to attract employers and stand out against the crowd.

Because of this, many medical assisting instructors opt to include both assessments in their course.

If you decide to add the AMCA exam in your course, make sure you review the CMAC assessment blueprint to learn the ins-and-outs of what’s on the exam!

If you’re strictly planning to use the NOCTI MA assessment, you can jump right to step four!

4. Connect with Local Healthcare Providers


While obtaining the NOCTI MA certification is the end goal of your course, it’s just the beginning for your students!

Once your students have their certifications, they still need to land their jobs as medical assistants!

That’s why it’s important for you to reach out to local healthcare providers who will probably employ your students.

When you speak with them, ask if there are any skills new medical assistants lack in the workplace.

After all, employers are the first to notice when there’s a disconnect between the classroom and the workplace!

If there are any gaps in knowledge, add those topics to the list of items to include in your curriculum!

Once you have with information from your local healthcare providers, it’s time to find the resources that will help you build your curriculum!

5. Choose Your Instructional Materials


When building a medical assisting curriculum, the four most popular options are:

  • Test prep materials
  • Free online resources
  • Medical assistant textbooks
  • Digital health science curriculum

Depending on your teaching strategy and the ways your students learn, one of these options may work better than others.

NOCTI MA Test Prep Materials

Test prep materials are frequently used in classrooms focused on preparing students for certifications.

Study guides and practice tests are great ways to help students review information while you keep track of where they may need help.

That’s why NOCTI provides test prep materials for their assessments!

However, test prep materials aren’t the best option for building your curriculum. After all, they’re designed to measure what students know, not teach new information!

That why many instructors use these materials as a supplement along with one of the other options.

Medical Assisting Textbooks

Textbooks are one of the most common instructional tools found in the health science classroom.

Medical assisting textbooks can help students learn basic healthcare concepts and act as great reference for review.

But when it comes to the detailed tasks and competencies found on the NOCTI MA exam, it’s hard to find a book that meets every requirement.

If you can find a book that helps you hit the NOCTI requirements and your course standards, you’ve struck gold!

But if you still have a lot of gaps in your crosswalk, try the next instructional material option.

Digital Health Science Curriculum

A digital curriculum system is designed to help you introduce students to medical assisting concepts, hands-on skills, and information to prep them for certification exams.

It’s made up of classroom activities, teacher presentations, lesson plans, assessments, and more.

On top of that some digital curriculum systems (such as AES) are updated when certification exams or national standards change.

That means once you’ve implemented a digital curriculum in your classroom, you’ll be able to use it as long as you teach that course!

That’s why so many health science instructors have success when using digital curriculum in their medical assisting courses!

Once you’ve decided which instructional materials you’ll use in your classes, there’s one last step -- building your curriculum!

6. Build Your Medical Assisting Curriculum


Overall, the instructional materials you choose should make your life easier when creating your NOCTI MA curriculum.

Each option has its pros and cons, but some will work better when creating your curriculum and teaching your classes.

You can also pick one main resource like a textbook or digital curriculum and then supplement with the other resources as needed.

Then, it’s time to put it all together to make sure your curriculum lines up with every concept and skill you need to teach!

You could make everything from scratch, spending your nights and weekends planning your whole syllabus.

Or you can join hundreds of medical assisting teachers already using a system that does the heavy lifting!

Teach Your NOCTI Medical Assisting Classes with HealthCenter21


HealthCenter21 is a digital curriculum system designed specifically to help you teach medical assisting lessons and prepare students for the NOCTI MA exam.

This is because HealthCenter21 is aligned to the NOCTI MA exam!

Want to learn more?

Click below to download the course guide for using HealthCenter21 to teach your NOCTI MA curriculum!

Download the National Health Science Assessment Guide