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Medical Assisting

Medical Assisting

What Are Medical Assistants?

Medical assistants act as key members of healthcare teams in a variety of positions. Medical assistants may perform administrative duties in the front office or at the computer, or they may fill clinical roles in the exam room and even in the lab. A medical assistant can serve as a link between doctor and patient, relaying important information and helping to provide patient care. For more details, see our medical assistant career page.

Medical Assistant Program Information

Medical assistant programs are offered through vocational schools, junior colleges, and colleges and universities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov). Certain courses may be available online through hybrid programs, but programs generally require laboratory studies and hands-on practical experience.

Students enrolled in a medical assistant program usually take classes such as anatomy, physiology and medical terminology. Medical assisting programs also typically introduce students to medical equipment, which could range from basic items like blood pressure cuffs to more complex tools like X-ray machines. Additionally, some programs require students to learn more advanced procedures, such as how to give injections. Increasingly, training may cover technical topics such as software applications and regulations related to electronic health records.

Medical Assistant Program Types

Students still in high school can take classes such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy to help them prepare for medical assistant studies. Different types of training programs are available:

  • Certificate/Diploma: Programs usually take one year to complete, depending on variables such as the course load. These programs can give students a basic introduction to the field, and can help prepare students for entry-level medical assisting jobs.
  • Associate Degree: Programs are usually completed within two years, depending on factors such as the student's schedule. Gaining an associate degree offers the possibility of further advancing studies with a bachelor's degree. Associate-level studies may include general education courses to develop skills such as communication.

Though most states do not require medical assistants to obtain licensure, many employers prefer to hire those who have obtained formal training or professional credentials, according to BLS.gov. Certifications are available from groups such as the American Association of Medical Assistants, American Medical Technologists and National Healthcareer Association.

Medical Assistant Course Descriptions

Medical assistant schools usually offer both on-campus classroom instruction and hands-on study, sometimes supplemented through an internship. Students may also be able to opt for specialized programs within the realm of medical assisting. Common courses include the following:

  • Insurance and Coding: This course helps students become familiar with processing insurance claims and medical insurance terminology.
  • Medical Office Management: Students can learn the basic procedures involved with running a medical office. Coursework is likely to cover medical filing systems and software, patient privacy, records keeping and administrative procedures.
  • Anatomy and Physiology: This course can introduce students to the components of the human body, covering topics such as the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous and endocrine systems.
  • Medical Laws and Ethics: Classes could examine basic legal terms, physician/patient relationships, professional liability and various ethical issues in medicine.

Medical Assistant Specialties

Medical assistants can choose to hone in on specialized roles, according to the National Center for Competency Testing, for example:

  • Geriatrics
  • Nutrition
  • Pediatrics

Certain specialties involve additional education or certifications, while others require practical training or related work experience.

Related Career Options For Medical Assistants

In addition to opportunities in the offices of professionals such as physicians, optometrists and chiropractors, medical assistants may find career options in other healthcare settings. Hospitals, group practices, clinics and other facilities rely on medical assistants to help with day-to-day operations and basic patient care. Medical assistants are flexible staff members with a diverse skill set, and responsibilities depend on factors such as the work setting and the size of an organization.

Qualifications for related healthcare occupations vary by state. With the required experience and education, medical assistants may also look into related careers such as these:

Links to Sources and Associations

Websites like these offer further information on medical assistant schools and requirements.

Allied Health Professions Credential from National Healthcareer Association

American Association of Medical Assistants

Explore Health Careers: Medical Assistant

Medical Assistants: Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

National Certified Medical Assistant Exam from National Center for Competency Testing

Medical Assistant Credential from American Medical Technologists

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AS in Medical Assisting
Remington College , Shreveport
Good for Working Adults
  • Dallas campus named 2013 School of the Year by the National Association for Health Professionals (NAHP).
  • Tuition covers course-required materials for campus students, including books, lab equipment, and class supplies.
  • Offers flat tuition rate to continuously enrolled students who are on track toward program completion.
  • Campus accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
  • 18 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
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  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
AAS in Medical Assistant
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in 2018 by the U.S. News & World Report.
  • Admits students throughout the year with quarterly start dates in January, April, July, and September.
  • Provides faculty-monitored internships or job-related assignments.
  • Offers associate and bachelor degree programs in business, design, health, plus certificate programs in practical nurse, medical assistant, and more.
  • Preparing students for professional and personal success since 1931.
  • Over $45 million in Berkeley College institutional aid was provided to qualified students during the 2017-2018 award year.
  • Over 7,000 students (more than 440 international students, representing nearly 75 countries).
  • 3,000+ students took at least one online class in fall 2017
  • Berkeley College named a "Best of the Best" by U.S. Veterans Magazine; 2014-2015, 2017-2018
  • Berkeley College ranked first in its category in Overall Mobility Index, 2017 – The New York Times
  • Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, 2014-2018 – U.S. News & World Report
  • USDLA/Quality Standards Certification, 2013-2017 – United States Distance Learning Association
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  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
A.S. - A.H. - Medical Assisting
City College , Hollywood
  • Features a community service program for students, called the Ambassador Program.
  • Offers several programs in healthcare, criminal justice, broadcasting, business administration and more.
  • Features an online system called MyPortal that allows students to check their schedule, grades, calculate their GPA, and more.
  • Has 5 Florida campuses located in Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Miami, Hollywood, and Altamonte Springs, with online options.
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  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Medical Assistant
The Jolie Academies , Wilkes Barre
  • Provides a student-centered approach to nail technician, cosmetology, manicuring and esthetics training where students learn from dedicated instructors.
  • Offers a job shadow program, in which prospective students may spend time on campus to sit in on classes, observe current students practice technique, and determine which program is best for them.
  • Has 5 campuses across Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
  • Gives students the chance to gain professional experience at campus-owned health and beauty clinics.
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  • Accredited
  • Financial Aid
Medical Assistant Associate's Degree
Virginia College , Greenville

The goal of Virginia College lies in its responsibility to its students, the technical and business communities, and the general citizenry. We have a long history of offering new direction to students.

  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Medical Assistant
  • Offers programs in nursing, medical assisting, and dental assisting.
  • Financial aid is available for students who qualify.
  • Job placement assistance is available for both recent graduates and alumni.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
  • 2 campuses located in Queens and Staten Island, New York.
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  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Medical Assisting - Associate
Good for Working Adults
  • Offers programs that focus on the two most in-demand application areas for sonography: abdominal and obstetric and gynecological applications, or a cardiac focus. Both provide exposure to vascular ultrasound, the third most common use of the technology.
  • Students can combine their bachelor’s degree in any field with their Diagnostic Medical Sonography program to earn a bachelor’s degree in Sonography.
  • Provides focused lab classes to give students hands-on experience as well as  clinical training held in a real-life setting.
  • Accredited Member, ACICS
  • Located in Kissimmee, FL
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  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits