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Certificate Programs

Becoming a part of the medical field doesn't have to take years and years of school. The healthcare certificate programs that we offer at Northwestern College are directly derived from degree programs and redesigned so that you can get complete, focused career education in a year or less. If you're interested in acquiring job-related skills in as short a time as possible, NC's certificate tracks might be the right choice for you. There are no general education credits required — just courses that are directly applicable to the work you want to do.


medical assisting students

Prepare to become a registered medical assistant and perform the wide range of clinical and administrative skills needed to be an important member of a healthcare team.

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Increase the delivery and quality of oral health care by becoming part of a dental care team at private practices; dental clinics; or federal, state, or local government health agencies.

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Enhance your coding knowledge and gain skills for entry-level coding positions by learning about current classification systems and how to use them in both acute and ambulatory care settings.

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Average Class Size: 14

Benefit from the small class sizes and individualized attention that an NC education provides.

119 Years’ Experience

We have been part of the Chicagoland area for well over a century, helping students just like you to succeed.

Programs in Fast-Growing Careers

We design our certificate and degree programs to get you out of the classroom and into the workplace quickly.

Accredited Education

NC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and holds various programmatic accreditations.

Medical Assisting

Medical Assisting Certificate Program

Medical assistants are a growing part of healthcare teams in physician's offices, hospitals, assisted living centers, outpatient and urgent cares, specialty clinics, and a wide variety of other healthcare facilities. They are trained in both the details of medical administration duties and the importance of patient-centered clinical skills and provide vital support for physicians and nursing teams, performing tasks like:

  • Recording patient's history and personal information
  • Measuring vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, etc.
  • Assisting with patient examinations and sometimes even giving patients injections or medication as permitted by state law
  • Organizing and storing confidential medical information
  • Scheduling patient's appointments and ensuring their records are up-to-date
  • Preparing and taking blood samples for laboratory tests

The medical assisting profession is separate from both physician's assistants and nurses and can often involve more emphasis on administrative work, like filling out insurance codes and handling incoming calls. In larger hospital systems, though, some medical assistants might even specialize in either administration or clinical work, and other medical assistants might specialize in a particular type of medicine depending on the practice they work in, like ophthalmology, obstetrics, and more.

Dental Assisting

Dental Assisting Certificate Program

Dental assistants work in private dental practices, dental clinics, or even for federal, state, or local government health agencies providing patient care and assisting with administrative tasks. It’s important to note that dental assistants are not the same as dental hygienists, whose responsibilities include advanced patient care tasks like polishing teeth; removing deposits, tartar, plaque, and stains; and developing X-rays. Dental assistants, on the other hand, include both patient-centric and administrative duties, like:

  • Greeting patients and getting them settled
  • Sterilizing equipment and preparing the work area for treatments and procedures
  • Assisting dentists during procedures
  • Instructing patients in proper oral hygiene
  • Maintaining patient records
  • Scheduling appointments and working with patients on insurance and payment

This is a people-oriented career that greatly increases the efficiency of the dental office when it comes to delivering quality oral healthcare. Dental assistants can also work under the direction of a dentist to set up and process X-rays, take impressions of patient's teeth, prepare materials for dental impressions or crowns, and other lab tasks. Some of the duties you may perform as a dental assistant are specifically outlined by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Coding Specialist

Medical Coding Specialist Certificate Program

Medical coding is the process of taking all of the procedures, diagnoses, medical services, and equipment usage that happens day-in and day-out in a healthcare facility and translating it into a set of universal medical alphanumeric codes. It’s a kind of common language used by everyone from healthcare teams to insurance companies so that patient's medical records can be understood the same across the country. Medical coding specialists — also called medical coders or medical billing and coding specialists — are the ones who process and translate all this information. They perform tasks like:

  • Reviewing patient information for preexisting conditions, completeness, and accuracy of the data so that it can all be inputted correctly
  • Organizing data into clinical databases and maintaining that information
  • Using classification software to assign the appropriate diagnosis and procedure codes for all aspects of patient care
  • Working as a liaison between healthcare providers, billing offices, and insurance companies
  • Tracking patient outcomes for assessment of quality of care
  • Maintaining confidentiality of patient's records

In recent years, the right of electronic health records has directly impacted the medical coding field, making it possible to digitally record, collect, store, analyze, and retrieve vast amounts of patient information. It also has meant that medical coding specialists must be very aware of all the ways they can help secure this information and implement privacy practices.


"The faculty at Northwestern were amazing. Mrs. Nieves went above and beyond to truly help me throughout my program. Whenever I had an issue with an assignment she broke it down to me where it made sense to me. She always had an amazing way of making us understand the material we were learning about. During my time at Northwestern College I was diagnosed with some medical issues and was going to put my last semester on hold, with her help and other staff members I was able to complete my program on time. I am truly blessed to have an amazing teacher to help me along the way. She makes learning fun."

Lydia RoldanClass of 2021, Dental Assisting

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