People can become medical assistants in two ways, either through direct on-the-job training or through formal post-secondary vocational training from a trade school or college. Completing a typical classroom-based training program that ends with a medical assistant diploma teaches the clinical medical assistant aspects and the administrative aspects, which may take about 9-11 months from start to finish. Those interested usually need to have a high school diploma/GED to qualify for a school-based vocational training program. When contacting a vocational training institution you should already have an idea about:
1. What are your short and long-term career goals?
2. What are the educational requirements to succeed?
3. What are employers’ expectations and how much do they pay?
4. What are the present job market predictions and future outlooks?
Find out how long the program will take, whether it qualifies you for recognized certifications, and what kind of documentation you will receive upon graduation. Ask whether the program is completely campus-based, a combination of classroom instruction and online learning, or entirely web-based. If it IS a distance education program, ask whether the certificate or diploma you earn will have the words “online program” printed on it. Ask whether the program requires an externship in a medical office and who will be responsible for locating and securing a suitable externship site; also, whether you will qualify to sit for a medical assistant certification exam. Find out how long the program has been in existence, how many people have graduated successfully, and what their job placement rate is. If it is an online course, ask whether their certificate will have an “online program” printed on it. The most promising medical assistant training programs are those which are approved by the U.S. Department of Education and accredited by the Commission of Accreditation on Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and ABHES.
Questions you can ask when deciding on which type of program to aim for:
Whether a medical assistant degree is better than a diploma has been debated for the longest. What makes a diploma or degree useful for hiring is what it says about the holder and what an employer expects. The employer may see it as the applicant has the knowledge or skills that apply directly to the job. This understanding increases when a medical assistant has also passed a medical assistant certification exam. While some employers may prefer one credential over another and others are completely neutral on this, hard skills essential to the field (clinical, administrative, clerical, and patient care procedures), technical skills (computer, patient monitoring and diagnostic devices), and customer services are thought to be crucial. Certain State Medical Boards require specialty training and limited licenses for certain technical skills, e.g. phlebotomy, ECG/EKG, starting IV lines, ultrasound, or x-rays. One of these states is Florida where medical assistants must have a limited x-ray license before they can take any radiological images, another is California where anyone who draws blood must be certified. Make sure the school of your choice teaches what you need to practice your skill in your state, otherwise our employability is instantly diminished. Doctors want medical assistants that can be rotated from the front to the back office should the need arise and should seamlessly fit into an administrative or clinical position.
Know your long and short-term educational and career goals and then pick a school according to your future aspirations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the U.S. Census Bureau analyzed how workers’ education and training relating to their job prospects and earnings, however, opportunities also exist for those who prefer to acquire job-related skills directly on the job. If you intend to use your medical assistant career as a springboard to, later on, pursue a career in another related field, such as nursing, health information management (HIM), medical office management, or hospital administration, or enter into one of the many medical and laboratory technologist occupations, we strongly recommend that you enroll in a two-year program at a college, or online program from a college leading to an Associate in applied Science degree (AS or AAS) or higher. In many cases, some of them earned college credits can then be transferred toward that degree or take care of the required prerequisites which will make a world of a difference.
Become a Medical Assistant
Those who wish to learn medical assisting skills should to do some information gathering first. By comparing vocational and career training options from different schools you are giving yourself options. Much information is readily available before joining any kind of school or program of your choice. By utilizing our Medical Assistant School Search Widget powered by Quinstreet’s Search Schools Network you will be shown on-campus schools in your area and web-based programs to study online. The list of schools includes various medical assistant and career training programs that lead to certificates, diplomas, and degrees for those who qualify and graduate.