Associate of Applied Science (AAS): Medical Assistant Degree Overview
Research associate's programs in medical assisting. Get information about requirements, courses, career prospects and salary to make an informed decision about your education.
Many community colleges and vocational schools offer associate's programs in medical assisting that combine classes in topics such as office procedures, medical terminology and anatomy with lab work that teaches students skills such as drawing blood and using simple medical testing equipment. Most programs require that students obtain supervised experience in a medical office. Students must meet a school's admission requirements, which can include a health screening and entrance exam. These programs usually consist of about 45 credit hours, and most take a little over a year to complete.
Applicants to a medical assistant program will likely be required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some schools additionally require that applicants complete an entrance exam, pass a health screening, submit to a criminal background check and provide proof of immunizations.
The courses in a medical assistant program cover both clinical and administrative medical topics. A program may teach students how to properly draw blood samples, understand safety guidelines, monitor blood glucose levels, perform an electrocardiogram and prepare laboratory specimens. Some programs may provide additional instruction in medical office procedures, such as medical record management, medical terminology, health system regulations, data management and medical billing. Programs also commonly require that students complete a medical assisting practicum. Course content may include:
- Introduction to medical record systems
- Medical terminology
- Medical coding
- Clinical procedures
- Medical law
- Healthcare ethics
- Patient safety and care
- Laboratory testing procedures
- Medical office procedures
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 553,140 jobs held by medical assistants who earned an annual mean wage of $30,550 as of May 2012 (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected a job growth of 31% for the field in the decade of 2010-2020. Medical assistants with certification were expected to have the best employment opportunities.
Continuing Education Information
Certification or licensing is not required for medical assistants, but according to the BLS certification can allow individuals to demonstrate their knowledge gained from completing a formal training program. Voluntary certification is available from organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants. Specific certification requirements are determined by each organization, but typically applicants must meet training requirements and pass a certification exam in order to become certified.
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