Students of medical assisting learn about medical laboratory testing, examination room procedures, pharmacology, medical transcription and general office practices. To enhance their career, graduates can obtain specialty training or get certified.
Applicants to these 2-year associate's degree programs must hold a high school diploma or GED. Schools could require students to earn a CPR certification, supply immunization records and submit to a medical exam prior to enrolling or participating in specific courses or practicums. Once enrolled in the program, students receive supervised, hands-on clinical training through labs, internships or externships.
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Associate of Medical Assistant
The curriculum of an associate degree in medical assisting includes coursework in medical terminology, computer applications, record keeping and pharmacology. Students learn the skills to complete administrative and clinical tasks, such as taking patient histories or vital signs. Other required classes might include:
- Medical accounting
- Human body systems
- Medical law and ethics
- Allied health informatics
- Lab procedures
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts faster-than-average job growth for this field, projecting an increase in employment of 23% for medical assistants between 2014 and 2024. The ability to handle both clinical and administrative tasks makes medical assistants an asset in many healthcare facilities. The BLS reports that medical assistants earned a median salary of $30,590 per year in 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Info
Graduates can seek immediate employment in medical facilities or could choose to advance their education. With additional training and experience, individuals could become teachers of aspiring medical assistants. Associate degree holders might also consider further training in nursing or health information technology for career advancement and to learn a more diverse blend of medical topics and procedures. Medical assistants don't have to hold licensure or certification, but can choose to obtain optional certification to demonstrate their knowledge and skill in the profession.
According to the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), employers often prefer or require medical assistants who are certified (www.aama-ntl.org). The American Medical Technologists (AMT) and the AAMA both offer certification to medical assistants who pass a written exam. Medical assistant specialty certification can also be obtained through credentialing organizations, such as the Specialty Certified Medical Assistant, which offers credentials in several disciplines, including cardiology, oncology, pediatrics and women's health.
In order to become a medical assistant, students can earn an associate's degree to learn the necessary medical, clinical and administrative skills. Graduates can expect positive job growth and may pursue certification and/or additional training.