Health assistants work in an office greeting patients, answering phones, filing medical records and completing insurance forms. They may also perform minor invasive procedures to withdraw blood and administer certain drugs and vaccines, as well as conduct standard tests in the lab. Health assistant certificate and diploma programs are available at several 2-year schools. Students can specialize as a school health assistant or mental health assistant.
Coursework is typically centered on office administration skills, technology, medical terminology and patient care skills. There are a few prerequisites to meet prior to enrollment, including a high school diploma or equivalent, eligibility to work in the United States, and possibly a minimum age requirement. In addition, students should have the ability to work around difficult patient care situations.
Certificate of Completion - Health Assistant
Students enrolled in this health assistant program must complete 47-53 credits of coursework. Classes include both healthcare specialization and basic core education courses.
Students in health assistant certificate programs develop knowledge of the healthcare industry, and learn the basics within their field, like terminology and transcription. Courses in English and math are incorporated, along with classes covering:
- Medical document processing
- Patient care
- Technical skills
Health Assistant Diploma Option
Health assistant diplomas most often come in the form of medical assistant diplomas. They are often 42 credits and prepare students for a career in healthcare support. Graduates of medical assistant diplomas work in clinical, laboratory and administrative fields. They work with physicians, chiropractors and other healthcare practitioners to keep operations running smoothly.
Courses revolve around medical terminology, lab work and ethical or administrative issues. In addition to these subjects, students learn how to adapt to individual circumstances, as their future careers may involve various aspects of the business and medical field. Typical medical assistant diploma coursework includes the following:
- Medical terminology and body structure
- Clinical Procedure
- Medical office procedures
- Medical assisting internship
- Medical insurance
Popular Career Options
The most popular career option after graduation is a medical assistant. However, this career option requires graduates to be multi-skilled. They must be especially comfortable in the workplace, as tasks may vary by the day. Other options may include:
- Certified medical assistant
- Registered medical assistant
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Health assistants find work in many places within the healthcare system. These include community and private health facilities, as well as within a private physician's office. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), jobs in medical assisting are expected to increase by 23% between 2014 and 2024, a much faster rate than the average occupation. Mean annual earnings were $31,910 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Students looking to be certified in healthcare assisting after graduation should fill out an American Association of Medical Assistants certification examination application. These can be found on the AAMA's website and are often available through school websites as well. The exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions covering lab procedures, healthcare laws, medical terminology and administrative procedures. Students can also study for the exam on the AAMA's website.
Students looking to continue their education can apply for an associate's or bachelor's degree in a related health field like nursing. They can also get another certificate or an associate's degree in a specialization within the health assisting field, including dental assisting, dental hygiene, occupational therapy and surgical technology.
Earning a certificate or diploma as a health assistant will give students access to a career field growing rapidly over the next decade at 23%. Pursuit of a professional certificate offered by the AAMA will improve job prospects and could increase earnings potential as well.