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Degree Overview: Associate of Specialized Technology (A.S.T.) Degree for Medical Assistant Specialists

Majors Overview March 4, 2014

Receive information about an Associate of Specialized Technology (A.S.T.) Degree for Medical Assistant Specialists and its educational requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and certification choices.

A.S.T. Programs for Medical Assistant Specialists

Students enrolled in Associate of Specialized Technology (AST) – Medical Assistant Specialist degree programs become adept at providing assistance to doctors and other medical professionals in various healthcare work settings. For-profit schools usually offer this type of degree program, while public institutions such as community colleges are usually among those that offer regular AAS degree programs. Medical assistant specialist students get taught about office management and trained in medical techniques through coursework that combines classroom lectures and laboratory studies. Students can typically complete these programs in 12-16 months that are offered through vocational learning and technical schools. The best-rated programs are the ones that carry the accreditation of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Students can use the coursework as preparation to sit certification exams that are compulsory before these professionals can join the workforce.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria in most technical and training schools require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. The GPA of the applicant may also be taken into consideration. Students may be required to have college-level math and English composition before being allowed to enroll into some programs.

Coursework

Coursework in AST medical assistant specialist degree programs may vary from institution to institution; usually programs include courses such as medical procedures training and medical office techniques education. Coursework may usually include topic areas such as:

•Healthcare laws and ethics
•Certification study planning
•Disease and diagnosis
•Medical coding
•Medical computer applications
•Medical terminology
•Medical office administration
•Pharmacology
•Anatomy and physiology

Job and Wage Outlook

A far-better-than-average job growth rate of 29% has been predicted for medical assistants during the decade from 2012 to 2022 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). The rapid growth of the healthcare industry is expected to be driven by technological advancements on the field and an aging population, thereby creating support employment opportunities for medical assistants. There are 560,800 individuals employed as medical assistants in the country; in 2010, one of two of these professionals were employed in doctor’s offices. Education and certification will ensure that the candidate has the best job prospects. In May 2012, medical assistants took home an average annual wage of $29,370. Assistants within the lowest ten percent of earnings earned $21,080 or less annually, while those within the highest ten percent took home $41,570 per year.

Continuing Education and Certification Choices

Professional certification is offered for medical assistant by many agencies including the American Association of Medical Assistants. The exam can be taken by graduates of AST medical assistant specialist programs in order to become Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs). The best job opportunities are enjoyed by CMAs who like an edge over their non-certified peers and many employers prefer candidates who hold this certification.

Certification that is professionally recognized in the industry is also offered by the American Medical Technologists. Many specialty certifications are also offered that can help medical assistants boost their career prospects. Certifications can be maintained through continuing education. Advanced education can help medical assistants to advance their prospects in the healthcare field. Registered nurse training or medical management education is commonly pursued by students.

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