Online Colleges and Universities for Medical Assistants: How to Choose

Jan 02, 2019

When considering online programs in medical assisting, you'll need to make sure you can fulfill any on-site clinical requirements. You'll also want to determine what award level you're interested in earning.

How to Select an Online Medical Assistant School

Medical assistants perform administrative duties in clinics and hospitals. Online college programs for medical assistants provide the training and knowledge needed to enter the profession. Online and hybrid medical assisting programs are offered at various 2-year public and private schools. Medical assistant students enrolled in online programs are expected to supplement online instruction with hands-on job training in their chosen medical specialty.

Award Level

The certificate is a common level of training for medical assistants. Online schools and colleges offer programs in medical assisting at the certificate and diploma level. A diploma program may include some general education courses, while a certificate program is focused on the core subject. Programs may offer internship options which must be completed in-person.

Program Delivery

Online medical assistant programs are offered with two enrollment options: low-residency (hybrid) and full online immersion programs. Hybrid programs require students to spend at least part of the time on campus and provide more hands-on opportunities in basic medical training procedures required of all medical staff, such as measuring pulse, providing CPR, administering injections and performing basic ultrasounds.

Fully online programs offer complete instruction, though online platforms and generally don't require students to take classes on campus. This can be beneficial for working professionals who need access to course materials at any time, day or night. However, because of the hands-on training necessary for medical assisting, programs offered entirely online may be rare.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Medical Assistant Certificate Program

A certificate program for medical assistants typically takes from a few months to little over a year to complete. The program is often offered as a hybrid that requires some on-campus training. Online programs may substitute hands-on training with virtual labs and video demonstrations though the Web. Program coursework includes classes in human biology and psychology in addition to courses that focus on administrative aspects of the job.

Students in a medical assistant program become acquainted with medical terminology and medical office procedures as well as administrative office programs and codes. Although a specific concentration in administrative, optometric or clinical medical assisting is not offered for medical assistants, students have a chance to participate in an internship program where they can deepen their knowledge in a chosen concentration of medical assisting. Specific classes include:

  • Medical office management
  • Insurance coding
  • Clinical competencies
  • Pharmacology
  • Diseases of the human body

Schools with Online Programs in Medical Assisting

U.S. Career Institute is one school that offers online medical assistant training. Its online certificate program may be completed in four months. Graduates are prepared to take the National Healthcareer Association's Certified Medical Administrative Assistant exam.

Penn Foster has an online program that allows students to earn a medical assistant associate degree. This program also prepares students to take the National Healthcareer Association's Certified Clinical Medical Assistant exam, American Medical Technologists's Registered Medical Assistant exam and the American Association of Medical Assistants's Certified Medical Assistant exam. To complete the program, students must undertake 200 hours of clinical work experience.

Students interested in fulfilling the role of a medical assistant can find online training programs to prepare them for their career. These students may choose to earn a certificate or an associate degree as they prepare for certification.

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