Online Degree Programs for Medical Assistants

Read about online medical assisting degree programs at the diploma, certificate and associate degree level. Explore how these programs work, especially the in-person externship requirement. Review the courses you'd take as an online medical assisting student, and get job outlook and salary info for the field. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kinds of Online Medical Assistant Degrees are Available?

Medical assisting programs can be found as an associate degree, a certificate or a diploma program. Associate degree programs are the most comprehensive and take about two years to complete. Diploma and certificate programs take between six months and a year to complete. All programs will prepare you to work with patients, support doctors and run a medical office. In addition to online programs, you can find hybrid programs that offer online courses with on-campus labs.

Degree TypesAssociate's degree, certificate, or diploma
Online ComponentsStudents can complete assignments and take exams online, as well as participate in online discussions
Other RequirementsAn externship will be required in order for students to gain hands-on clinical experience
Common CoursesVenipuncture, office administration, CPR and first aid, injection administration, nutrition
Career PossibilitiesMedical assistant, medical secretary, clinical assistant

What's the Difference in an Online Program?

In an online program, you will download your course materials, turn in assignments and take exams using online learning platforms, such as Blackboard. You may be required to participate on an online discussion board related to the current topics you're studying. Due to the nature of the program, you'll also be required to complete an externship in order to gain practical experience using your skills in a clinical setting. During your externship, you'll be required to attending weekly online meetings with your instructor to discuss what you're learning and track your progress.

What Is The Externship Requirement?

In an externship, you will work under the supervision of a doctor taking patient histories, recording vital signs, preparing patients for various procedures, performing certain diagnostic tests and processing specimens. You'll gain hands-on experience in infection control techniques, first aid and CPR. Telephone skills, scheduling and maintaining records is also incorporated into an externship.

What Courses Will I Take?

Medical assisting programs train you to assist physicians with administrative duties and patient care. Topics discussed include medical records maintenance, medical transcription, medical assisting and pharmacology. In addition, some programs may require you to take a skills assessment and some prerequisite courses in areas such as biology, psychology, computers and English composition. Typical courses include:

  • Injection administration
  • Electrocardiograms
  • Venipuncture
  • CPR and first aid
  • Office administration
  • Nutrition
  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy
  • Pharmacology
  • Recording vital signs

What Are My Career Options?

Upon successful completion of a medical assisting program, you will be qualified for careers such as medical assistant, medical secretary and clinical assistant. A medical assistant performs clinical tasks such as taking vitals and assisting patients, while a medical secretary provides administrative support by taking appointments, recordkeeping and scheduling. Another career open to you is a clinical assistant. In this position, you will be responsible for taking blood, collecting urine and performing basic tests.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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