In two-year AS and AAS medical assistant degree programs, students will study medical administration and physician assistance. Students gain practical experience in clinical procedures through an internship. A minimum of a high school education or its equivalent is required in order to gain admission.
Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting
Within the program, students can gain a thorough understanding of laboratory procedures, medical terminology and administrative office procedures. They receive hands-on training in performing diagnostic tests, taking vitals, assisting doctors and updating medical records. Students take courses designed to develop basic office and computer skills, as well as clinical procedural knowledge. Common courses include:
- Human anatomy
- Healthcare ethics and laws
- Medical billing and coding
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected medical assistant career opportunities to grow by 23% from 2018 to 2028 (www.bls.gov). Medical assistants can help with the primary care of patients in some cases, allowing doctors to see more patients. Assistants with certifications can look forward to the brightest job prospects.
According to the BLS, medical assistants earned a mean salary of $34,540 per year in May 2018. However, earnings can vary according to region, employer and experience. For example, in the District of Columbia, medical assistants averaged an annual salary of $42,010. Alaska had the highest employment of medical assistants in the United States, and these workers earned an average annual salary of $45,490 in 2018, per the BLS.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Assistants with certification, in addition to education and experience, have the best job prospects. Several organizations offer professional certification for medical assistants, including the American Medical Technologists and the American Association of Medical Assistants. Students who have completed the required education and passed a required exam retain certification for up to five years. Continuing education coursework is required in order to maintain certification over time.
Career advancement for medical assistants can come from a variety of areas within the burgeoning healthcare industry. Medical management and registered nursing are two common options for assistants who gain additional education.
Even though ABS programs for aspiring medical assistants do not exist, AS and AAS programs provide the basic medical education and clinical training needed for students who want to start working in the field.