These degrees are typically offered as Associate of Science degrees in medical assistance (or assisting), and they provide students with the training and knowledge to pursue careers as medical assistants. These 2-year programs teach students how to work with patients in clinical and non-clinical capacities under the direction of doctors or other healthcare professionals. An externship or clinical lab study, mixed with classroom education is generally required for graduation. Programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) are widely held in high regard within the medical assistant career field (www.caahep.com). Students who seek to enter Associate of Science degree programs in medical assisting must have at least a high school education.
Associate's Degree of Medical Assistant Sciences
In Associate of Science in Medical Assistant degree programs, students learn about healthcare principles, basic medical procedures and clerical or office-related duties as well. Programs may feature certification exam study as well. Common courses include the following:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Clinical lab procedures
- Medical insurance and billing
- Medical terminology
- Computer applications
- Medical administration
- Medical coding
- Medical ethics and laws
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The medical assistant career field is poised to experience much faster than average job growth from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS (www.bls.gov). The BLS expects the field to grow by 23% in that span. Medical assistants are able to assist with the primary care of patients, which allows doctors to see more patients. An aging population and the increasing use of technology in the field will also result in more career opportunities.
Medical assistant salaries can vary based on geographic location, the type of facility at which they are employed and their skill level. More than half of these professionals worked in physicians' offices in May 2014. The BLS notes that medical assistants earned mean annual salaries of $31,910 in May 2015. The top ten percent of medical assistants made $43,880 or more per year.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Professional certification is requested or required in many cases in order to gain employment in this career field. The American Association of Medical Assistants and the American Medical Technologists are two organizations that offer certification for medical assistants. Typically, certification requires having an education and passing an exam. Certification lasts for five years. Completing continuing education courses in areas such as clinical, administrative and general medical assisting is required in order to maintain certification.
Medical assistants also have the opportunity to advance their careers into other medical or management areas through gaining additional education. The healthcare field is one of the fastest-growing fields in the U.S., so career opportunities abound for qualified individuals within the industry.
The A.S. degree program in medical assisting gives students hands-on and seminar styled courses to build their skill set in procedures and terminology for a position as a medical assistant. The medical assistance field is expecting fast employment growth over the next decade, making this a viable career option for students who are interested in a healthcare profession.