Pediatric Medical Assistant Training and Education Program Options

Oct 14, 2019

Pediatric medical assistants link young patients and physicians, performing a variety of clinical and administrative functions. They often hold a diploma, certificate or associate degree in medical assisting, along with voluntary certification.

Essential Information

In diploma, certificate and associate degree programs, students learn the basic skills needed to work as an assistant in the medical field. Educational programs are found at many 2-year colleges and are also commonly available online. Courses cover administrative skills, including record keeping, billing and scheduling patients, as well as clinical work such as conducting lab tests and preparing patients for procedures.

These programs do not offer specializations, such as pediatrics, but they do prepare graduates to work in any type of medical practice. Professional certification requires completing one of the programs, passing an exam and renewing the certification every five years. After five years of experience, the medical assistant can test for an advanced certification.

Diploma in Medical Assisting

Students in a diploma program acquire the skills necessary for carrying out both front and back office duties, including scheduling and billing patients, preparing patients for treatment and examinations, conducting lab tests and maintaining medical records. A high school diploma or GED is often required for admission.

Most diploma programs provide hands-on classroom laboratory practice, as well as a clinical practicum. Such programs generally last three semesters. Students learn various methods and procedures having to do with patient and office management, including:

  • Laboratory methods
  • Medical office procedures and management
  • Psychology
  • Medical terminology
  • Concepts related to health insurance
  • Basic keyboarding

Certificate in Medical Assisting

Medical assisting certificate programs provide a curriculum and training approach comparable to most diploma programs. Like the diploma programs, instruction combines practical laboratory training, such as learning how to draw blood, with basic patient exam duties and administrative tasks. Courses overlap with diploma programs; specific course names, which vary by school, may include:

  • Radiography
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Laboratory techniques
  • Mathematics and pharmacology for medical assisting
  • Communication essentials

Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting

Associate's degree programs in medical assisting offer a clinical practicum and courses similar to both the diploma and certificate programs; however, most have an additional year of general education requirements. Students will learn how to assist with examinations and minor surgery, administer patient injections, maintain medical documentation, prepare exam rooms and conduct proper sterilization techniques.

Associate's degree students will complete general education and elective courses as required by each institution, in addition to the medical assisting core requirements. These courses typically include the following:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Laboratory methods
  • Concepts related to health insurance
  • Clinical methods and techniques
  • Law and ethics in medicine

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the medical assisting field is expected to have faster than average job growth, at 23%, for the years 2018-2028. The BLS reported in May 2018 that medical assistants made a median annual salary of $33,610.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Diploma and certificate degree programs provide the minimum amount of formal education in medical assisting. Students interested in further education can continue their studies with an associate degree in the field.

Individuals are eligible to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Certification Exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants if they have graduated from an accredited medical assisting diploma, certificate, or degree program. Recertification is required every five years. Those who have been employed in the field for a minimum of five years may advance their credential by sitting for the American Medical Technologists' certification exam.

Although not a requirement for all employment, certification demonstrates an individual's knowledge and skills in the field. The BLS notes that increased job prospects and pay may be in order for certified persons, more so over non-certified MAs (

Education and training for pediatric medical assistants are available at the diploma, certificate and associate's degree levels. CMA certification will also prove beneficial to graduates in their career search.

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