Why Should I Become A Medical Assistant?
The medical field is growing fast because of advances in technology, increases in America’s elderly population, and more medical offices. The medical field is teeming with opportunities and a need to fill positions, such as medical assistants. According to The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical assistant employment rate is predicted to grow 23% from 2018-2028.
Medical assistants train to work with physicians and have training in both medical and clerical duties. Their duties include test patients, collect vitals, draw blood, give injections, give medications, handle medical billing, managing records, and setting appointments. Medical assistants commonly work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and health care facilities.
A medical assistant position can be flexible, with both part-time and full-time opportunities in small and large clinics. Medical assistants can work for general physicians offices and also specialize and work alongside specialists like:
…and many more. Being a medical assistant is a great choice for those who want flexibility in their career.
Skills Medical Assistants Need
- Customer service- A necessary skill when providing patient care with proper patient etiquette and administration work in the office. Medical assistants can have direct contact with patients through nearly every process throughout their care.
- Medical terminology and general medical knowledge- These skills will be taught in medical assistant schools. Medical assistants often communicate between the patient and physician and should be able to understand and communicate with medical terminology.
- Clerical/Administrative skills- It is very common for medical assistants to have at least some admin responsibility. Medical assistants will most likely have courses in their degree program about this.
- Communication skills- Medical assistants are responsible for communicating efficiently, both in written and spoken form. They communicate regularly with patients, doctors, nurses, and other medical assistants. Medical assistants should be able to pay close attention to detail while communicating.
The more analytical skills you can add to your resume when applying for medical assistant positions, the better.
Medical Assistant Program Information
Typically, an associates degree in medical assisting:
- takes 18 months to 2 years
- costs $6,000 to $20,000 per year in annual tuition
Should I Get a Medical Assistant Associate Degree or a Certificate?
According to Medical Technology Schools, there are a few key similarities and differences between the two forms of medical assistant schools.
- Medical assistant courses are generally similar
- Many potential job titles after completion of the program are similar
- The length of the program differs. A medical assistant associates degree can take between 1-2 years with a full-time student schedule. Certificate programs will last only around one year.
- In the medical assistant associates degree program, you may have to take general education courses. These may include English, math, and humanities courses.
- Medical assistants with only a certificate may not be able to work in a specialist’s office without further education.
- The average salary of a medical assistant in 2016 was $31,540. The average salary of a medical assistant with an associate degree leaned towards the higher side at around $45,310. The average salary of a medical assistant with a certificate was often closer to the lower end at about $22,870
What Jobs Can a Program in Medical Assisting Get You?
New medical assistant graduates will be qualified for several job positions and titles. These include but are not limited to:
- Medical Assistant
- Laboratory Technicians
- Hospice Aide
- Clinical Assistant
- Admissions Clerk
- Home Health Aide
- EMT and Paramedic
Common Medical Assistant Program Courses
While degree plans differ program to program, these are very common courses included in most medical assistant programs that you can expect to see.
- Clinical Aspects of Coding and Billing
- Medical Terminology
- Medical Administration
- CPR Training
- Surgical Procedures
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Office Laboratory Procedures
Where Do Medical Assistants Work?
When looking for a job, it is important to consider where exactly the jobs will be located in order to help with the job search.
- 54% of medical assistants work in physicians offices
- 15% work in hospitals
- 9% work in outpatient care centers
- 4% work for chiropractors
Factors to Consider When Choosing a School For Medical Assisting
- Does the school accept credits you have already earned?
- The school’s graduation rate
- The school’s graduate employment rate
- Is the medical assistant program offering a diploma, certificate, or associate’s degree?
- Does the school have accreditation?
- Cost of the medical assistant program
- Average/estimated financial aid and scholarships that are given
Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
Medical assistant graduates must have gone through a program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Health Education Programs in order to be allowed to take the American Association of Medical Assistance Exam, the CMA (AAMA).
Many employers require or strongly prefer their medical assistants to be CMA (AAMA) certified.
An accredited program has proven to meet standards by a neutral and external group. This shows the students future employers that their education was of quality. It also gets the school qualified for federal financial aid.
For more information, check out this complete list of accredited health education programs.
Should I Do Online School or In-Person?
Benefits of online medical assistant programs
- Do not have to travel/commute often or at all
- No set schedule
Disadvantages to online medical assistant programs
- Miss out on experience with patients
- Harder to network with other students in the medical field
Benefits of in-person medical assistant programs
- Get more face to face time with patients
- Get to work closely with other students
- Can meet easily with professors and build relationships
Disadvantages to in-person medical assistant programs
- Set class schedule
- More expensive
- Have to move near the school or commute
Currently, because of COVID-19, many schools are limiting in-person classes or completely canceling. Many colleges have already begun the switch to online learning. Learn more about online learning during Coronavirus here.
Below are a mix of in-person and online medical assistant degree programs:
Medical Assistant Degree Programs
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
- New Richmond, Rice Lake and Superior WI
- Graduation Rate: 40%
- Employment Rate: 93%
- Yearly in-state tuition: $4,729
Wisconsin offers a 33 credit medical assistant program with required administrative and clinical externships that you can complete in one year. Applicants must already be CPR certified and have a clean criminal background.
Pima Medical Institute
- Several locations
- Graduation Rate: 56%
- Yearly in-state tuition: $15,549 – $16,773
- 66% of first-year students get financial aid of some form
Pima’s accredited, nine-month-long medical assistant diploma program is committed to finding students jobs after graduation. There are Prima Medical Institute locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington.
- Medical assisting programs in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota.
- Yearly in-state tuition:
Globe University has a 21 month applied science associate degree in medical assisting. Externships will be completed while in the program.
- 40 locations
- Yearly in-state tuition: $14,241
Kaplan’s one year, accredited medical assisting diploma program qualifies graduates to take the AAMA medical assisting certification exam. Kaplan College has 40 locations throughout Florida, North Carolina, and Texas
Online Medical Assistant Programs
Georgia Northwestern Technical College
- Rome, GA
- Graduation Rate: 43%
Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s medical assistant program is actually a hybrid program, with courses both online and in-person. Students must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher throughout the 63-credit medical assistant program.
Bryant & Stratton College
- Yearly in-state tuition: $17,216
- Graduation Rate: 27%
The Bryant and Stratton College has two-year associates of applied science degree in medical assisting. Their program is accredited and prepares students to take the AAMA Certification Exam.
College of Healthcare Professions
- 8 locations in Texas
The College of Health Care Professions has a unique program for those who wish to be a certified clinical medical assistant. Three weekends on campus for in-person clinical training. 48 weeks long
State Fair Community College
- Sedalie, MO
- Graduation Rate: 30%
This online medical associate degree has clinical rotations in Sedalia’s local medical offices. A 3.0 GPA is required for the duration of the 61- credit medical assistant program.
- Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Graduation Rate: 65%
Keiser University offers a 60-credit online program with a required medical assistant externship. 90% of Keiser University graduates have a job within six months after graduation. While there are no required test scores or recommendation letters, applicants must have a high school degree or GED. Active duty service members get a form of financial aid from the Yellow Ribbon Program’s reduced tuition rate.
Being a medical assistant is a great career for those who enjoy working with people,the medical field and being in a supporting role. Find the best program for you and start your dream career!