Medical assistants play an increasingly important role in 21st century healthcare services. They are responsible for many administrative and clinical tasks in doctors’ offices, hospitals and many other kinds of healthcare facilities.
The role of medical assistants continues to evolve and expand as electronic health records (EHRs) are becoming standard practice in medical offices and facilities. Medical assistants are receiving training in how to keep these systems updated. They also are responsible for keeping private medical information confidential. Assistants regularly must learn new EHR software so that they can do their jobs in reporting vital medical information to the proper offices and authorities, per state and federal guidelines.
These medical professionals also help doctors and other healthcare professionals with minor medical tasks, such as taking blood pressure, taking EKGs and taking the weight of patients. They also spend a great deal of their day dealing with setting up patient appointments.
As more Americans are demanding more extensive healthcare services to lead more productive lives – longer – there is tremendous demand for medical assistant jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in this healthcare field will soar 23% in the next 10 years.
Most medical assistants today can earn a certificate in medical assisting, many of which can be taken online. These programs tend to be available at community colleges, technical schools and vocational schools.
Some community colleges and online colleges offer a two year program in medical assisting that results in an associate’s degree. If you are looking for a medical assistant career, you should review some of the online university options we highlight later in this article.
Registered and Certified Medical Assistant Advantages
In the past, many medical assistants entered the field with just a high school education. However, today, more employers want their medical assistants to have better skills. Not only is it beneficial to have a medical assistant certificate: You also should consider becoming a registered medical assistant.
To become a registered medical assistant, you have have to have five year of experience, or a medical assistant degree. You also have to have had no felonies in your life and pay $95 for the examination proctored by the American Registry of Medical Assistants.
You also can become a certified medical assistant with the same qualifications as above. This examination is conducted by the American Association of Medical Assistants.
Advantages of Being a Medical Assistant
If you are considering this exciting career with a lot of job demand, consider these advantages:
- National certification: Once you pass the certification examination, it is recognized across the US. You do not have to worry about getting certification for multiple states.
- Broad skill set means more job demand for your skills. As noted earlier, there is strong demand for medical assistants, and ones that have a broad set of administrative and clinical skills will be very valuable to many employers.
- Many medical assistants find that they acquire skills over time that can lead to advancement. For example, having good administrative and people skills combined with the ability to draw blood can lead to a leadership role in a clinic.
- You will never be bored in your job. Medical assistants play a very important role in most facilities. It is rare that you will be standing around waiting to do something.
- You may specialize or generalize. Many medical assistants have roles that span both clinical and administrative duties, but this is not always required. If you prefer administrative work, you can probably find a job that is just administrative in nature. Or, if you like a combination of administrative and clinical work, you can certainly find that type of work as well.
- Regular hours: Most medical assistants work regular day time hours when medical offices are open. You generally will not need to work nights or weekends.
- You gain experience while in school: Most medical assistant programs require you to do an internship when you are in school. This will provide you with a head start for getting work when you graduate. Many employers prefer to hire workers who interned for them previously.
#1 Kaplan University Medical Assistant Certificate
This online medical assistant certificate offers you a comprehensive curriculum with plenty of hands-on administrative training on equipment that is used in medical offices. The courses that are offered will train students on how to perform specific medical office duties:
- Taking vital signs
- Recording EKGs
- Assist with administering injections
- Carry out administrative and accounting functions
- Learning EHR software
- Understand the fundamentals of documenting and charting
Coursework you will take in this two year program online include:
- Medical Law and Bioethics
- Diseases of the Human Body
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Coding and Insurance
- Medical Office Management
- Online Professionalism in Healthcare
#2 College of Healthcare Professions Medical Assistant Certificate
This is a hybrid online and clinical medical assisting program that is designed to provide you with both online and campus learning experiences. This program is available fully online if you are working full time, but some students opt to get clinical training in the campus lab setting that is available at seven Texas campuses.
Many graduates of this two year program end up working in these careers:
- Medical assistant
- Clinical lab aid
- Medical assistant office manager
- Blood bank donor assistant
- Back office manager
Skills that are taught in this accredited medical assistant program:
- Doctor assistance
- Do EKGs
- Medication administration
- Vital signs
- Interview patients
- Reception work
- Minor lab procedures
- Manage electronic medical records
- Insurance billing and accounting
Your coursework will include these classes:
- Medical Terminology
- Medical Law and Ethics
- Overview of Anatomy and Physiology
- HIPAA/OSHA and Infection Control
- Psychology and Human Relations
- Medical Laboratory Procedures
#3 Penn Foster College Medical Assistant Certificate
This one year online certificate program is designed to help you take your first steps into a rewarding career as a medical assistant. The online degree program has 15 credit hours of general studies and 50 credits of core classes for medical assistants.
This program will help you to prepare for the Registered Medical Assistant and Certified Medical Assistant examinations. Classes include the following:
- Introduction to Biology
- Essentials of Psychology
- Introduction to Allied Health
- Law and Ethics in Medicine
- Medical Terminology
- Anatomy and Physiology 1
- Business and Technical Writing
- Medical Coding
- Clinical Procedures 1
- Medical Transcription
- Electronic Medical Records
Being a medical assistant will mean you should never have difficulty finding work, and you will earn a good salary. Plus, with experience, you can most likely qualify for advancement.