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Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting: Degree Overview

Research Associate of Applied Science degree programs that can prepare you to become a medical or clinical assistant. Learn about course requirements, career information, and continuing education opportunities to make an informed decision about your education.

Essential Information

A medical or clinical assistant Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program is ideal for individuals who are interested in working under the supervision of physicians in clinics, hospitals, or medical offices. Students typically spend the first year of this two-year program developing clerical skills. The second year they learn medical terminology and management skills while also completing clinical education. In addition to courses and clinical rotations, students may also participate in cooperative education to gain hands-on training in a medical setting. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required for admission.

Course Topics

Students learn to perform a variety of duties, including receptionist duties, medical coding, bookkeeping, medical record keeping, and obtaining/recording vital signs. Graduates should be able to demonstrate problem solving skills, professionalism, and proficiency in performing patient-related clinical duties and laboratory procedures. Course topics may include:

  • Health information systems
  • Filing and records management
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical terminology
  • Basic electrocardiography
  • Medical ethics and law
  • Human anatomy and physiology

Popular Career Options

Medical or clinical assistants are trained to perform many duties within a medical setting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physicians' offices employed the highest number of medical or clinical assistants in May 2012 (www.bls.gov). Some popular career titles for this occupation include:

  • Medical assistant
  • Administrative medical assistant
  • Clinical medical assistant
  • Ophthalmic medical assistant
  • Podiatric medical assistant

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Employment growth of 31% is projected for medical assistants over the 2010-2020 period, reports the BLS. Most medical assistants in May 2012 earned salaries between $21,080 and $41,570 annually, and the median wage was $29,370.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of medical or clinical AAS programs may seek employment immediately after graduation or may pursue further studies. Some may enroll in further training or bachelor's degree programs to become nurses, teachers or other healthcare professionals.

Medical assistants are not required to have certification, but many choose to do so to demonstrate their knowledge of the required medical standards for the profession. Certification may also lead to better job opportunities. Certification can be obtained through the American Medical Technologists (AMT) and the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

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