Students seeking associate's degree programs related to health aides can enroll in health care support or medical assisting. programs. Health care associate's degree programs cover infection control, health care procedures and anatomy. The prerequisites are often only a high school diploma or equivalent and graduates may be prepared to take their state's nursing aide certification exam, depending on the program.
Medical assisting students learn to manage medical offices, do medical coding, take patients' medical histories and use office software applications. After graduation, students may pursue the Registered Medical Assistant or Certified Medical Assistant credential to improve their employment prospects as medical assistants.
Associate's Degree Programs for Health Aides
Associate's degree programs offer options for aspiring nurse aides, home health aides or medication aides. Many of these programs combine various certificate training options into a program culminating in an associate's degree. Courses focus on the roles and responsibilities of health aides or nursing assistants in providing medical care. Students can expect to take courses that cover such subjects as:
- Restorative care
- Anatomy and physiology
- Nursing assistant/health aide fundamentals
- Health care procedures
- Infection control
Associate's Degree Programs for Medical Assistants
A similar career option to health aides, medical assistants can provide clinical or administrative support in hospitals and doctor's offices. Medical assisting programs provide practical experience in addition to classroom study. Students are educated in medical ethics and learn basic office skills along with the terminology and clinical skills needed to work in a medical office. Aspiring medical assistants can expect to learn about proper treatment of patients. Commonly studied topics include:
- Human anatomy
- Medical coding
- Patient communication
- Office applications
- Legal issues
Employment Outlook for Nursing Aides
In addition to obtaining training, nursing aides will need to take a competency exam in most states. These aides could be considered certified nursing assistants, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Health aides who want to work at certified health agencies that receive funds from the government will also need to pass state certification exams, the BLS reports.
Professional health aides can expect to see strong growth opportunities. The BLS reports that nursing attendants will see faster-than-average growth of 18% from 2014 to 2024. Even better are the opportunities for home health aides, who are projected to see 38% employment growth in that same time period, largely due to the expected increase in the aging population.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info for Medical Assistants
This career field is also a strong growth area, and the BLS projects 23% job growth for medical assistants between 2014 and 2024. Medical assistants will be in demand by physicians who want to hire lower-paid workers who can perform similar duties to nurses. Medical assistants earned a median salary of $30,590 in May 2015.
Certification and Continuing Education
Medical assistants can find credentialing options that may be preferred by some employers. Options include Certified Medical Assistant and Registered Medical Assistant, among others. Requirements to earn these credentials vary, but the BLS reports that aspiring assistants will need to complete training through accredited programs and pass an exam to obtain the CMA credential, which is offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
Students interested in pursuing more advanced careers in health-related areas might consider additional education. Programs at the bachelor's level are available for aspiring registered nurses while those considering careers as physician's assistants will need to complete master's degree programs.
Pursuing an associate's degree for health aides or medical assistants can lead to a career in a field with robust employment growth, ranging from 18% to 38% depending on the specific career chosen. Students can further advance their career by completing professional certification programs, such as the one offered by the AAMA.