Although some medical assistants receive their training on the job, most employers are demanding applicants with formal training from an accredited medical assisting school. The medical assistant training process can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. Depending on an individual’s career goals, salary expectations, and other factors, they may choose to enroll in one of several types of training program.
Different Types of Training Programs
The three main types of medical assistant training options are certificate, diploma, and associate’s degree programs. There are several differences between these three options that can greatly impact a student’s career options.
Certificate – While some certificate programs last only a few weeks, they typically take a year to complete. This is the most basic form of medical assistant education, as students will take only the core courses they need to become an assistant. Most medical assistants with a certificate will end up working in an administrative capacity. However, they may still be eligible for taking a certification exam and advancing their career.
Diploma – A diploma program is very similar to a certificate program with a few differences. This form of medical assistant training generally takes a year to complete, as student’s take additional courses related to clinical work. This will allow students to choose between both administrative and clinical positions, and it will be easier if they want to earn an associate’s degree in the future.
Associate’s Degree – Earning an associate’s degree is generally the most advanced form of medical assistant training. Associate’s degree programs take two years to complete, and they include just about any type of medical assistant course as well as general education classes. Medical assistants with an associate’s degree will be eligible for advanced clinical positions, and may even end up working in a specialized area of the healthcare industry.
The Medical Assistant Training Process
The medical assistant training process typically involves the completion of a set of core medical assistant courses. These include medical terminology, insurance filing, electronic health records, and medical office procedures. Depending on the level of medical assistant education an individual is pursuing, they may also complete advanced courses that teach them how to administer injections, draw blood, fill prescriptions, and more.
While most coursework is completed in a classroom or online, some programs offer classes that involve laboratory training in a clinical setting. Individual coursework will vary however most can be broken down into two categories: clinical and administrative.
- Medical Terminology
- Patient Records
- Office Management
- Phone Ettiquete
- Finance and Bookkeeping techniques
As most medical assisting job descriptions involve a mixture of both clinical and administrative duties, it’s important for students to look over any potential school’s curriculum to enure both aspects of the profession are covered adequately during training.
Continuing Medical Assistant Education
After a student completes a medical assistant training program, they will have several options. They can either begin searching for a job immediately, choose to enroll in a more advanced training program, or earn a certification. There are several types of medical assistant certifications, four of which are accredited by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. By earning a certification from an accredited organization, an individual will be able to boost their resume, more effectively demonstrate their skills, and possibly secure a higher salary.
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