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Medical Assistant Course Overviews

Undergraduate degree, certificate, and diploma programs in medical assisting are available at vocational schools and community colleges. This article profiles the most common courses for prospective medical assistants.

Essential Information

Medical assistants are health care workers who provide administrative and clinical assistance to physicians and nurses. Medical assistant courses are available at numerous schools and are typically part of certificate or diploma programs in medical assisting. Some schools may also offer associate's degrees in the field. Industry certification is available for medical assistants. Although certification is not required, it's often preferred by employers, and being certified may increase job opportunities.

Medical assistant courses will teach students about the following topics:

  • Human physiology and anatomy
  • Medical billing procedures and coding
  • Patient care and assessment
  • Administration of pharmaceuticals
  • Diagnostic equipment and testing tools

List of Common Courses

Administrative Office Procedures Course

This course provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work in an administrative position in a medical office environment. Students learn to operate office technology, software applications and provide basic office management support, such as preparing a budget, filing medical records and developing effective communication. Students in this course focus on basic concepts in the health care system, review area trends and gain knowledge of the ethical, moral and legal issues surrounding the health care profession.

Medical Terminology Course

Students will study basic elements contained in medical terminology, such as prefixes, suffixes and root words in order to learn to interpret and define medical words and terms. In addition, the coursework also covers the pronunciation and structure of words relating to common abbreviations of functions used in diagnoses, clinical procedures, oncology and pharmacology.

Health Care Law and Ethics Course

This course will provide students with an in-depth study of the ethical and legal principles in the health care system. Students become familiar with medical forms and legal documents used in the health care profession. Class discussions cover laws pertaining to sexual harassment, patient consent, patient rights and legal reporting obligations.

Exam Room Procedures Course

Students in this course learn to perform standard clinical examination room procedures. During the course, students are trained to assist medical personnel with exams and treatment by preparing patients for the exam, checking vital signs and updating medical records. Additional topics covered include assisting doctors and nurses during the exam, educating patients and preparing medication.

Clinical Course

During a clinical course, students work in approved clinical sites under close instructor supervision. Topics covered in a clinical rotation are typically concurrent with material taught in the classroom. Students gain hands-on experience in performing basic laboratory procedures, operating equipment, conducting procedures and working with other professionals.


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