Medical assistants will work in medical clinics, hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other medical facilities. They also provide assistance to physicians by helping them perform routine clerical duties and basic laboratory procedures. The training needed to start a career as a medical assistant can be obtained in an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree program.
A.A. Programs for Medical Assistant Specialists
Students enrolled in an associate degree program are trained in the tasks necessary to help run a medical office smoothly. Students can expect to become adept at various aspects of the field such as patient care, basic patient preparation, legal concepts, routine lab skills, insurance processing, medical billing and medical transcription. It takes about 60-90 credit hours to complete an associate degree program in about 18 months of full-time study. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.
Coursework in a medical assistant specialist program is devised to enable the student to seek entry-level careers in various medical and health facilities. Clinical experience is offered in many courses. Coursework may include topic areas such as:
•Exam room procedures
•Electronic health records
•Medical office procedures
•Anatomy and physiology
•Medical law and ethics
Job and Wage Choices
Graduates can seek occupations in various areas including labs, research facilities and medical clinics. A job growth of 34% has been predicted for medical assistants during the decade from 2008 to 2018, making it one of the fastest growing occupations (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, medical assistants took home an average annual wage of $29,370 (BLS).
Certification and Continuing Education Choices
Those who graduate from an associate degree program can opt to continue their education by earning a bachelor’s degree that would allow them to choose from additional positions in the medical field, such as healthcare administration or nursing. With work experience to augment their education, they could also aspire for office administrator positions among others. Medical assistants can seek voluntary certification to showcase their knowledge and skills to potential employers or to improve their career prospects in the field. Organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants and the Association of Medical Technologists offer such certifications to these professionals.