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Overview of Associate Degree Programs to Become a Medical Assistant

Majors Overview March 9, 2014

Students enrolled in an Associate of Medical Assisting program are trained to perform the various roles performed by medical assistants in a clinic, medical center or physician’s office. To this end, they learn to schedule appointments, and assist nurses and doctors. Associate’s degree programs devised to provide entry-level training in medical assisting are offered by many schools. There are also many certificate programs in medical assisting for those who may have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated area.

The Associate’s degree program typically offers a combination of classroom lectures and internship training in the clinical component and administration of medical offices. Medical assisting programs are accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools as are programs for other health professions.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require applicants to have a GED certificate, high school diploma or GED equivalent, as well as a strong foundation in algebra. Foundation courses and placement tests may also be required to be taken.

Coursework

As in many associate’s degree programs, general education classes are typically required to be completed in medical assisting associate’s degree programs; these include algebra, computers and English composition. Internship is also covered by coursework in many programs that may include topic areas such as:

•Anatomy and physiology basics
•Clinical and laboratory procedures for medical assistants
•Medical billing and coding
•Medical terms and meanings
•Foundations in pharmacology

Job and Wage Outlook

Other than medical assistant, other job titles that graduates of this type of program may choose from include medical records specialist, medical secretary or medical billing specialist. A faster-than-average job growth rate of 29% has been projected for medical assistants during the decade from 2012 to 2022 (BLS); the growth is expected to be driven by a switch to electronic records further accelerated by an increasing need for preventive medical care needed by an aging baby boomer population. In 2012, medical assistants took home an average annual wage of $29,370.

Certification and Continuing Education

Earning a bachelor’s degree program in medical assisting would be the solution for individuals who seek continued education to advance into other careers. This degree will prepare individuals to handle additional responsibility as a health care provider doing supervised work on the watch of a doctor. Advanced degree programs in medical records management and medical billing are also available.

Certification programs and continuing education opportunities are available for professionals in the field. Completion of an accredited education program and passage of a national examination can help individuals to accomplish the Certified Medical Assistant credential. A medical assistant certification is also offered by American Medical Technologists – such certification also requires Completion of an accredited education program and passage of an examination.

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