Formal vocational education and training are NOT always required to become a qualified medical assistant. Medical assistant training is either provided through a vocational training program, or directly on the job under the supervision of a medical doctor, but many opt to go back to school and earn their certificates, diplomas, and degrees via classroom instruction. Medical assistant training can take place in one of the following types of settings:
In a secondary, postsecondary, or adult education program offered at Community Colleges and private post-secondary Vocational Training Institutions across the country. If the institution is properly accredited and approved graduates may sit for the national certification exams.
Under a licensed medical doctor on the job, or in some instances under a registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, or physician assistant (PA). The supervising licensed health care professional is directly responsible for determining the content of the training and the proficiency of the medical assistant in training, however, lacking formal documented training medical assistants trained on the job may not always qualify to sit for nationally recognized medical assistant certification exams.
Online, via self-study and distance education.
If the course is accredited and approved by the Department of Education or CAAHEP graduates may sit for the national certification exams. The physician, or licensed health care practitioner in charge must then determine the skill level and capabilities of the medical assistant trained online.
From Novice To Expert
Where does the road begin? Many medical assistant students enrolled in programs falsely believe that the road to success doesn’t start until they get to their first job where they can show what they know and prove themselves to the employer and patients. Nothing could be further from the truth. Success begins in the classroom and from there all subsequent efforts to achieve competence and recognition continue throughout their entire career.
The first day in class is probably the most important! Success depends on showing a can-do-attitude, engagement and interaction, and proactive engagement in the clinical lab. There are several stages of development in order to achieve the required competence to become a medical assistant. According to Benner’s Stages of Clinical Competence (1984), beginners without experience of the situations in which they are expected to perform are provided with knowledge. This helps them perform better. Practice and time will mold them into proficient performers. The expert, in this case, the medical assistant instructor, or doctor no longer relies on an analytic principle (rule, guideline, maxim) to connect or understand the situation. The medical assistant student must be taught what doctors want, otherwise, any classroom instruction or on-the-job training will be in vain.
Medical Assistant Class Curriculum
Those who wish to become a medical assistant must have a solid understanding of front and back medical office procedures, be organized, alert, and familiar with the electronic (EMR) and traditional filing systems (medical charting) to retrieve and process information quickly and accurately. Here is what most medical assistant students can expect from a typical medical assistant curriculum. Many medical assistant instructors are now integrating modern technologies, such as mobile devices and pads into their curriculum, which makes the instruction more flexible, interesting, and progressive for their students.