Medical assistants can perform administrative and clinical tasks in a variety of medical settings, assisting health care professionals with everything from pre-clinical assessments to post-surgery cleanup.
These programs are offered at community colleges and technical schools and typically include clinical rotations to give students hands-on practice in a medical facility. Graduates may pursue voluntary medical assistant certification.
Associate's Degree in Medical Assistant Technology
Medical assistants are expected to be able to perform administrative duties as well as clinical ones, so degree programs aim to educate prospective medical assistants in both.
The types of clinical tasks a medical assistant would be responsible for include blood testing, measurement of vital signs and preparation for medical procedures. Students also learn patient billing procedures, insurance record management and office administration skills.
Programs commonly includes lectures, lab studies, seminars, externships and supervised clinical rotations. Topics of study may include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
- Administrative medical assistant office procedures
- Clinical coding
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that medical assistants will see an employment growth of 23% between 2014 and 2024. This is due mostly to the rapid expansion of the health care industry as the U.S. population grows older and demand for medical services rises accordingly. In 2015, medical assistants earned a median annual salary of $30,590, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Although not a requirement, certification can demonstrate a certain level of competency by an industry-recognized organization to prospective employers. The American Association of Medical Assistants and the Association of Medical Technologists are two organizations that offer certification to medical assistants.
Though no higher educational opportunities may exist in medical assistant technology, medical assistants can advance in their careers to positions as office administrators through work experience or additional training. Using the basic medical knowledge obtained through a medical assistant associate's degree, they may also pursue educational programs leading to positions as nurses or teachers in the medical profession.
An associate's degree in medical assistant technology can prepare students for medical support positions in a variety of medical settings.