As physicians serve more patients in less time, they turn toward qualified medical assistants to act as the backbone of the office. These clinical and clerical professionals help perform virtually every task that does not require a medical license. A medical assisting degree delivers the knowledge and skills necessary to enter the healthcare workforce and succeed in this rewarding field.
Earning a Medical Assisting Degree
The medical assisting field continues to see explosive growth as people live longer and as scientists uncover new ways to treat ailments. Through distance learning, working adults gain the flexibility to study around their families, obligations and work schedules. Many programs include video presentations and around-the-clock course access to make learning even easier.
Medical assistant degrees fall into three main categories:
- A diploma, which teaches the basics of healthcare support over one year
- A certificate, which combines a diploma with preparatory work for the certifying exam
- An associate’s degree, which lasts two years and includes the general education classes needed for transferring into a bachelor’s degree
Colleges base tuition and fees on the type of degree being pursued. To reduce costs, most students apply for private scholarships, state grants and federal financial aid.
The popularity of Internet-based medical assistant programs is due, in part, to their high academic standards. Accreditation committees, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, regularly review curricula and employment outcomes. In addition, American Medical Technologists and the American Association of Medical Assistants grant credentials only to students who meet their course requirements and pass their certification exams.
Medical Assistant Courses
Medical assistant graduates have sharpened their critical thinking, communication, clerical and clinical skills. Some of the subjects taught in a distance learning format include:
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- First aid
- Drug interactions
- Office practices and technology
- ICD-9/CPT coding
- Medical law and ethics
- Public safety and regulatory compliance
Growing at twice the national average, the U.S. medical assisting field provides an excellent opportunity to start in healthcare support. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over 150,000 new jobs will be added within the next 10 years. Most medical assistants seek positions in:
- Physician offices
- Nursing homes
- Psychiatric and rehabilitation hospitals
- Research facilities
- Insurance companies
Working with a Medical Assistant Degree
Graduates of online medical assistant degree programs can work as:
- Medical secretaries and administrative assistants, processing medical records and insurance billing
- Clinical medical assistants, helping doctors, recording vital signs and explaining treatment plans
- Ophthalmic assistants, performing vision tests, helping patients with contact lenses and eye medications and assisting with eye surgeries
- Optometric assistants, aiding patients with glasses, contacts and corrective devices
- Podiatric medical assistants, helping podiatrists to x-ray, make casts and perform surgeries
- Laboratory technicians and phlebotomists, collecting blood and specimens, sterilizing instruments and performing tests
- Healthcare receptionists, scheduling appointments and greeting patients
- Office managers, overseeing non-medical, day-to-day operations
Many men and women advance into nursing, supervision or teaching.
Graduating with a medical assistant diploma, certificate or degree is a quick way to make a positive life change. Just a few months of study can unlock a satisfying, in-demand career with unlimited potential.