Health careers are currently booming. The job market for medical assistants is promising. The Bureau of Labor statistics predicts a 31 percent growth from 2010-2020 for this health career. The increase is spurred by demand for preventive health services in particular. Yahoo! Education lists Medical Assisting on its list of Top 5 Healthcare Careers. Other sources, including the Census Bureau, list healthcare as a “stable or growing industry.”
Medical Assistants and Higher Education
All Medical Assistants must be certified by the AAMA. Although it is not required to have a college degree, a degree has become the norm for finding a job in this field.
How Online Medical Assistant Programs Work
Online Medical Assistant Programs often include video lectures, audio recordings, group discussions, slide shows and more. Because the content is offered through electronic media, students can access the training from anywhere. This makes it possible for students working a full-time job and those with families to take care of getting the education they need at their own pace. Online Medical Assistant programs provide you with everything you need to enter this field! Students are also able to complete any required clinical practice through healthcare centers near the students’ homes. Students are provided with everything they need to competently and effectively work as a medical assistant immediately upon graduation.
2013′s Top Online Medical Assistant Programs
Harrison College has over 5,000 students in the United States and internationally.They have increased their specializations to include the health sciences, veterinary technology, criminal justice, and informational technology. Their highly regarded medical assistant program is a 2 year, 96 credit program that prepares students to become a highly employable M.A by providing education and proficiency in office procedures, laboratory tests, administering medication, vital signs, ECG machine training, etc. Their mission statements include excellence, service, compliance, and are known for a student centered education.
Most Affordable Hybrid MA Programs
|The University of Texas at Brownsville||TX||$3,086||$8,666||20%|
|Madison Area Technical College||WI||$3,180||$4,632||26%|
|The University of Montana||MT||$3,750||$15,104||44%|
|Idaho State University||ID||$3,800||$14,300||31%|
|Mountain State University||WV||$4,572||$4,572||08%|
|Clayton State University||GA||$5,850||$23,400||23%|
|Northern Michigan University||MI||$5,888||$8,500||45%|
|University of Maine at Augusta||ME||$6,240||$15,120||17%|
|Youngstown State University||OH||$7,010||$7,160||36%|
3 Types of Medical Assistant Programs
A diploma program can be completed in 2-3 semesters and, if accredited, may qualify students for certification. Diploma programs include training in administration, medical law, office management, anatomy and physiology, clinical procedures, medical terminology, and some form of clinical practice.
Certificate programs allow students to easily transfer to an associate’s degree program and can qualify students to take the certification exam. In these programs, students can expect to study basic concepts and to maintain records, assist physicians, and identify clinical and administrative duties. In addition, students will explore the ethical and legal responsibilities associated with the healthcare system. Finally, these programs include clinical experience.
Associate’s degree programs are much more in depth and involve English, psychology, sociology, mathematics, and other general education courses as well as medical assisting courses. These may include medical billing and coding, insurance billing, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, disease, accounting, laboratory procedures, and much more. These programs include experiences in both clinical and administrative settings.
What makes online programs the best choice is the fact that students can get their education while still working, taking care of a family, and meeting other responsibilities and obligations. If you feel like you are too busy to get your medical assistant training via traditional methods, online programs offer what you need on a schedule that is perfect for you.
Areas of Study Taught in Online Programs
Typical areas of study in these programs includes
- Medical terminology
- Billing and coding
- Anatomy and physiology
- Office procedures
How to Pick the Perfect School
Now that you know what the best online medical assistant programs are, you have to decide which one you want to enroll in. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind, and any one of them could have a big influence on your decision. Consider the following:
- Online, on campus, or hybrid: If you are confident enough to handle independent study, you should work well in an online degree program. If you need some classroom training, you need to make sure the school has a physical location nearby so you can take some or all of your classes there.
- Tuition and financial aid: Compare the costs associated with different schools and make sure you have enough financial aid to cover them. Better yet, make sure your school of choice will accept your financial aid in the first place. If so, you can at least enroll without worrying about how to pay for college.
- Credit hours: How long will it take you to complete your degree? One year? Two years? Three years plus? This should factor into your decision because some degrees are more accelerated than others. If you are working on a limited timeframe, you need to get a degree that will land you a job as quickly as possible.
- Classes: The classes you take in your degree will determine what you do when you start working. Try to find a degree that offers the specific training you are looking for.
- Future education options: Do you want to get a degree after your associate’s degree in medical assisting? If so, you might want to look for a school that already offers a bachelor’s degree and beyond. That way you know your credits will transfer into your new degree. If you can’t find such a school, make a plan for your future and check if your desired medical assisting program online fits into it well.
The best medical assistant program for you may not be the best program for everyone else. That is why you have to assess your own goals, plans, and experiences to find the right school from the start. The beauty of going to school online is that you can start whenever you are ready and you can learn at whatever pace you want to. So, what are you waiting for? Start exploring your options and unlock the path to your future.
Choosing the Best Program for You
Accreditation is the most important thing to consider when choosing a program. Look for programs that are accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Only graduates from these programs are eligible to sit for the certification examination. Students should consider the type of program they want to complete. Certificate and diploma programs typically take around 12-18 months to complete, while associate’s degree programs require students to study for between 18 and 24 months. Higher training often means increased employment opportunities and the potential to earn a higher salary.
Associate’s degree programs include general education in addition to medical assistant training. This is the BEST choice for those who may want to complete a bachelor’s degree program at a later time. Finally, look for programs that include certification preparation or review courses. Also look for those that provide internship or externship opportunities. especially if you intend to become certified, or if you intend to enter a specialized position or to work solely as an administrative or clinical medical assistant.
According to the Bureau of Labor statistics medical assisting is projected to grow by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020 due to the population’s aging baby-boomers and increasing need for health care workers,
Sample Job Titles
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
- Chiropractor Assistant
- Clinical Assistant
- Doctor’s Assistant
- Medical Assistant (MA)
- Medical Office Assistant
- Ophthalmic Technician
- Optometric Assistant
- Optometric Technician
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
Top Paying States for Medical Assistants
In terms of pay, most medical assistants earn $28,860 a year, according to statistics from 2012. The average pay per hour is $13.87 an hour. The more time you spend in the field, the more money you can make in the long run.
||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage
|District of Columbia||1,630||$18.17||$37,800|
Highest Employment Levels by State
Aside from completing one of the degree programs listed above, you may need to complete state-issued exams before starting work as a medical assistant. You will need to research the licensure requirements for your area before applying for work. Some states do not require college education at all, and you can obtain all of your career training on the job. As a whole, you will find a job quicker and earn more money with a formal education. What you do is entirely up to you. Assess your options to see what the best path is for you.
Some medical assistants go back to school after working in the field for a few years. This may be to improve their job opportunities or it may be to gain new skills for work. As new technology develops, you may have to take night classes or online classes to learn how to work with industry-related machines.
Life as a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are responsible for the administrative side of the health care industry. They are secretaries of sorts, but they do much more than answer phone calls. They are in charge of filing patient records, contacting insurance companies, scheduling appointments, billing and coding, and preparing patients to see their doctors. The training to do all of this is minimal, and the rewards are huge. That’s why becoming a medical assistant is so desirable.
In addition to an associate’s degree or diploma in medical assisting, you may want to obtain certain certifications that correspond to skills you need. Examples include:
ASCP Certified Phlebotomy Technician
- Basic Life Support
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
- Certified Medical Assistant
- Certified Nursing Assistant
- Emergency Medical Technician
- First Aid
Certifications like this let an employer see what you can do so they know you can be trusted to handle specific tasks. This will make finding a job much easier because you will already have the credentials employers are looking for.
The skills needed to be a medical assistant will depend on the office you work for. In general though, employers look for assistants with the following abilities:
You have to be able to learn new tasks on the spot and handle emergency situations. If you think you can do that, you can be a medical assistant.
Medical assistants are needed 24 hours a day, so you may not get away with a 9-5 schedule. Instead, you may work through the night or in the early morning to maintain the organization of files at a hospital. Of course, if you work in a doctor’s office or clinic, you will only be at work during business hours. In hospital settings though, you need to be prepared for whatever schedule you’re given.