Medical Assisting Degree Options - Video

Medical assistants work in a variety of healthcare facilities in order to provide support to physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors and ophthalmologists. Most medical assistants provide a variety of basic administrative functions related to the healthcare industry in addition to exam room prep, lab services, and patient relations. Medical assisting is an area of study that can be undertaken at a two-year college or technical school.

Description of Degree

Medical assistants perform a variety of tasks, from bookkeeping and collecting lab specimens to instructing patients on taking their medications. Degree options in Medical Assisting are often found at trade, community or technical colleges. Medical Assisting programs typically take one to two years to complete. Specific degree options may include a diploma in Medical Assisting, an associate degree in Medical Assisting, or various Medical Assisting certifications. Degree programs in Medical Assisting will prepare students to work in the healthcare industry assisting physicians, chiropractors and other healthcare practitioners. Students will learn specific skills in medical terminology, medical record and bookkeeping, and pharmaceutical principles. Upon completion of such a program, students will be able to work in a variety of healthcare facilities, including clinics, chiropractic offices and hospitals.

Skills Obtained and Typical Courses

Students in a Medical Assisting degree program will gain an overview of clinical and diagnostic procedures as well as medicine administration, lab techniques and medical bookkeeping practices. A sample of courses within a Medical Assisting associate degree or certification program may include:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology
  • Ethics and Healthcare Law
  • Introduction to Pharmacology
  • Radiology and Laboratory Sciences
  • and Patient Care

The administrative skills that are likely to be taught in a Medical Assisting degree program include updating patient records, arranging laboratory services and appointment setting. And depending on specific state guidelines, additional skills, such as recording vital signs, gathering medical histories or assisting physicians during exams, may be taught. Students in an accredited Medical Assisting program may also have the opportunity to gain experience through an internship program. Students who participate in internships will receive practical experience on location, whether in a hospital, physician's office or another healthcare facility.

Career Options and Occupational Outlook

Certification for medical assistants is not required, but employers do prefer to hire those with experience, education or certification. Graduates who are interested in a variety of tasks and broad use of their skills may benefit from working in a small medical practice, whereas those interested in more specialized job duties may find a larger institution more appealing. Students who are open to becoming certified or continuing their education in order to advance their career can also take the American Association of Medical Assistants Certification Exam.

Wrap Up

Even though it is not always essential to have formal education in Medical Assisting in order to obtain an entry-level position, it is always advantageous to have an associate degree or certification. This is especially true for individuals looking for career advancement. Specialized certifications in the area of Medical Assisting include the Certified Medical Assistant and the Certified Radiologic Technician certification to name a few. Most Medical Assisting programs prepare students to be able to take these certification exams upon completion of their program. It is also wise with the ever-changing healthcare industry, to keep up on medical trends and certifications beyond a student's initial degree in Medical Assisting.

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