Diploma programs in healthcare or medical assisting train students to provide support services to medical personnel. Applicants must possess a high school education, although preference may be given to those with some college coursework for small and competitive programs. Courses are a combination of lecture and hands-on learning. Externships are also included in most program curricula.
Medical Assistant Diploma Program
Medical assistant diploma programs are often designed to cover topics related to clinical and administrative duties. Students also receive training in medical billing, preparing laboratory tests samples, and administering medications to patients. Graduates gain an understanding of medical terminology, health safety codes, and healthcare procedures. Topics covered in the curriculum include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical equipment operations
- Laboratory procedures
- Infectious disease control
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Medical records management
Possible Career Options
Graduates from healthcare diploma programs possess the skills to become healthcare or medical assistants in medical settings, such as hospitals, medical laboratories, doctors' offices, extended care facilities, and clinics. Common job titles include:
- Clinical medical assistant
- Ophthalmic medical assistant
- Administrative medical assistant
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of medical assistants is expected to grow as much as 23% from 2018 to 2028. The average annual salary earned by medical assistants was reported as $33,610 in May 2018 by the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
To advance in the field of healthcare and medical assisting, training or education beyond a diploma is usually required. Some medical assistants decide to become nurses or other types of allied health professionals. Becoming a nurse, for example, requires earning an undergraduate degree and meeting state licensure requirements.
Healthcare and medical assistants are not required to be licensed, and certification remains voluntary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American Association of Medical Assistants provides one of the most common certification programs for this profession, the certified medical assistant (CMA) designation (www.bls.gov). Only graduates or soon-to-be graduates of recognized medical assisting programs are eligible to take the CMA exam, which covers general knowledge, administrative duties, and clinical procedures. Certified professionals must recertify every five years by either retaking the exam or by completing continued education coursework related to the medical assisting field.
A healthcare assistant diploma program provides students with a combination of hands-on learning and lectures covering clinical and administrative duties, billing, procedures, and records management. Program graduates can prepare for a career as a medical assistant--a field that expects 23% employment growth through 2028.