Students enrolled in a clinical medical assisting program can expect to take 40-60 credit hours of coursework, which takes 1-2 years to complete. Schools differ widely in the type of award conferred; programs may lead to a diploma, certificate or associate degree. Regardless of the award, online medical assisting programs almost always require candidates to complete an in-person clinical portion at a hospital or other medical training facility in order to practice patient interaction skills in a real-world setting.
Many programs are offered in a blended format. There are a small number of fully online programs, though the clinical component is still a requirement.
Online programs in clinical medical assisting usually omit liberal arts courses that may be required for traditional on-campus degree and certificate programs in the field. Candidates study body structure and function. They also develop techniques for vital sign and patient health history recording. Sample classes are found below.
In this class, students learn the essential prefixes, suffixes and root words of the modern medical lexicon.
Medical Law and Ethics
This course covers the doctor-patient relationship. Other topics may include contracts, patient consent and medical liability.
Medical Assisting Procedures
Students learn how to control infections. They may also learn how to prepare specimen samples.
Learning Details and Requirements
For distance courses, students make use of online reading materials, quizzes and exercises. Lectures are generally conducted via streaming video or are pre-recorded, which lets students work at their own pace. Some schools require students to attend weekly labs; other schools may require students to complete clinical training and lab work exclusively at the end of the program.
After completing an online training course, all students are required to take the national clinical medical assisting examination in order to practice. After passing the certification exam, students can apply for jobs within the following facilities:
- Offices of Physicians
- General practitioners
- Outpatient health care centers
- Nursing homes
- Residential health care facilities
Clinical medical assisting training also provides a good foundation for further education leading to a career as a practical nurse, emergency medical technician or physician assistant.
While most medical assisting programs found online are of a blended format, there are a small number of fully online programs available. These programs include a clinical component, and typically focus on subjects such as medical terminology, medical ethics and medical assisting procedures.