Guide to Medical Assistant Colleges
Below are links to the top online medical assisting degrees. Use the links next to the school to request free information about the programs it offers. If you are considering in enrolling in an online medical assisting program, please request information from at least four different colleges as each program has differences that are best explained by the schools themselves.
|AS in Medical Assisting AS in Health Information Management AS in Medical Billing and Coding AS in Medical Office Administration||Herzing University — If you are looking for a well-respected school with a range of programs offered in the health care industry, Herzing University may be the right choice for you. Herzing University offers AS degrees in Medical Assisting, Health Information Management, Medical Billing and Coding, and Medical Office Administration. These programs teach you the foundation necessary to continue on to a bachelor's degree should you choose to continue your schooling.|
|AAS in Medical Assisting AAS in Health IT AAS in Medical Office Management AAS in Medical Office Transcription||Kaplan University — You can earn an exciting degree in various health care disciplines at Kaplan University. Programs offered include an AAS in Medical Assisting, Health IT, Medical Office Management, and Medical Office Transcription. The programs enable you to assist physicians, communicate professionally, and perform key functions in health care facility and lab settings.|
Definition of a Medical Assistant Degree
Medical assistant colleges offer different options depending on how long you plan to be in school. The majority offer an associate’s degree, often called an Associate of Science Medical Assisting. The advantage of this route is that you can usually apply your credits from your associate’s degree toward a bachelor’s degree in the future. If you are sure you do not want to pursue a bachelor’s degree, you might prefer medical assistant colleges that feature a shorter certification course. This is usually called a medical assistant certificate.
One of the best skills you can learn at medical assistant college is how to make patients feel comfortable and at-ease with you, since you will be dealing with people everyday. Knowing the best way to explain the doctor’s orders is also quite helpful. Additionally, you will learn basic anatomy, medical terms, recordkeeping, general office skills, and how to render first aid. You’ll hone your clinical duties including taking and recording vital signs and medical histories, preparing patients for examination, and administering medications as directed by physician.
Career Options for Medical Assistants
Most students at medical assistant college intend to become medical assistants, but there are several related positions that this degree may prepare students for, as well. For example, if you find that you are adept at keeping medical records organized, you might be interested in becoming a physician’s administrative assistant or medical secretary, which would require you to deal more with paperwork than medical care. However, regardless of where you work, you can expect to perform the following duties:
- Record patients’ medical history, vital statistics, or information such as test results in medical records.
- Prepare treatment rooms for patient examinations, keeping the rooms neat and clean.
- Interview patients to obtain medical information and measure their vital signs, weight, and height.
- Authorize drug refills and provide prescription information to pharmacies.
- Clean and sterilize instruments and dispose of contaminated supplies.
- Prepare and administer medications as directed by a physician.
- Show patients to examination rooms and prepare them for the physician.
If you find that you do not want to work directly with patients, you can put your organizational skills and knowledge of medical terminology to work as a medical transcriptionist. You might also move into more specialized positions such as nursing aide, physical therapist assistant, and dental hygienist.
Medical Assistant Classes and Degree Information
If you are going for an associate’s degree, you will need to take general education courses, including math and English. You will also be expected to take several science courses, such as biology, anatomy, medical terminology, and physiology. Other basic classes that offer a good background to start with include basic computer skills and accounting. If you are in a shorter program that does not result in an associate’s degree, you will only take classes meant specifically for medical assisting, not general education classes.
You can expect most of your knowledge to come from required externships. This means you will be working alongside experienced medical assistants and nurses at either a hospital or doctor’s office. You will be closely monitored for the first few months, but you should slowly learn to do the skills on your own over time before you officially get a job in this field.
Externships also provide an opportunity to network with other medical assistants, doctors, and nurses. When it comes time to look for a job, your connections in the field will pay off. Volunteering also provides invaluable networking opportunities. Hospitals and clinics need volunteers to provide patient support and care. Take advantage of these opportunities by giving back a few hours a week at a medical facility near your home.
Average Salaries for Medical Assistants
Your salary will likely depend on where you work and your professional experience. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants can earn roughly $30,000 a year with the highest 10 percent earning more than $39,570. Other stats include:
Medical assistants can work in many settings, allowing a great deal of flexibility when it comes to finding employment. Depending on what type of patient you wish to serve will influence your salary. With a medical assistant degree, you might also qualify, or be interested, in working as a:
- Medical transcriptionist
- Clinical medical assistants perform duties similar to those of:
- Dental assistants
- Dental hygienists
- Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
- Nursing and psychiatric aides
- Occupational therapist assistants and aides
- Pharmacy technicians and aides
- Physical therapist assistants and aides
These careers might require additional training or coursework. Clinical duties vary depending on the work environment and state law and regulations. Each state has its own requirements for maintaining licensure so make to verify these requirements prior to submitting your application. You’ll want to verify that the school you choose offers the necessary courses need to practice in your state. Practicing without a license can result in stiff penalties. Doctors and nurses must also also apply to practice and prescriptive authority. Taking the time to research and educate yourself pays off in the long run.
Degree Requirements for Medical Assistants
Medical assistants do not need to be licensed, but the vast majority of them choose to become certified in this field. Many states do require certification for medical assistants to draw blood or take x-rays, so if you want to perform such tasks and have a better chance of getting a job in this industry, you should consider this path. This requires attending a medical assistant college that is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) awards the Certified Medical Assistant credential. This credential must be renewed every five years. It’s important to maintain your certification and/or license. You can find study resources and other helpful information by visiting the AAMA’s website. They also provide state and chapter support as well as re-certification and continuing education information.