Medical Assistant Programs

A solid education will put you on track for a fast-moving career in the medical field.

The medical assistant profession offers a fantastic career option for a person who wishes a life of help and service to others. As a medical assistant, you’ll have a foot in both the clinical and administrative sides of the healthcare industry. You’ll act as the liaison between doctors and their patients. Your daily routine will include a wide range of tasks such as taking greeting patients, taking vital signs, coding for insurance, handling correspondence and billing.

Sound appealing? Get started in a medical assisting program that puts you on the right track.

What to Expect from Medical Assistant Programs

When you enter a medical assistant program, you can expect a challenging, wide-reaching education that will prepare you to work in a medical office or hospital setting. You can expect to learn how to perform simple medical procedures, such as taking blood or other laboratory samples, collecting vital signs and explaining procedures to patients. You can also expect your studies to cover some or all of the following:

Pharmacology Lab procedures
Medical law Patient care
Health science Medical software
Medical records Electrocardiograms
Changing wound dressing

In a sense, you’ll be something of a medical ambassador. When patients enter your medical practice, they’ll need someone to guide them and prepare them for what is to come. You will need to be ready to decide what sort of patients you would like to work for, but that decision can come later. In fact, you will be able to choose whether you would like to work with children, the elderly, women or cancer patients, to name but a few specific populations you might encounter.

A good program will prepare you for the job market, and you should expect to find a career services office on the campus or online. You might look for assistance with writing a resume, selecting proper attire for interviews, learning the best responses to interview questions and how to find the best employment opportunities.

Some programs work in association with doctors and hospitals to facilitate real-world, experiential learning in the form of externships. These on-site experiences will be invaluable to your growth and development in the profession. After all, it is one thing to be able to answer correctly on a test, but when a patient is having anxiety and you still must change the dressing on their wound, you will need practical experience under your belt. When you learn to implement your newfound skills in the real world, you’ll have a leg up on those who apply for jobs without any experience.

While you can enter the profession with only a high school diploma, it is advised that you progress towards either a certificate or an associate’s degree with a concentration in medical assisting. Once you have established an educational foundation, you will have laid the groundwork for future growth and development in your field. You will be especially ahead of the game if you complete an AA degree, as you can then build on that and complete a full four-year degree later. Considering that the medical field is traditionally composed of highly educated people, the more you strive to match those standards, the more you will find your special niche in the industry.

Why Should I Become a Medical Assistant?

You should become a medical assistant if

you are interested in helping others on a daily basis. You should have a passion for medicine and healing and desire to play a vital role in that process. While the doctors will have the ultimate say in the direction of a patient’s treatment, you will be there to facilitate the patient’s transition to health and well-being.


One aspect of your role in healthcare might be to might explain to patients when and how to take medications, what to look for when inspecting a healing wound and when they are scheduled for their next appointment. You can also explain to them any aspects of their insurance that they may have a question about.

Very often, you will be the first point of contact that a patient has with the doctor or the medical establishment in general. Thus, your responsibility will be to make patients feel welcomed and that they are in the right place to receive the care and attention they deserve. When you are well trained, you will know how to listen to the patient’s symptoms and help prepare the doctor to best treat them.

If you desire a career that is multi-faceted, where no two days are ever truly alike, then medical assisting might be right up your alley. You will need to be medically-minded when it comes to prepping patients to see a doctor, but then be able to change hats to take care of administrative tasks, such as billing and insurance coding. On top of that, you will likely need to answer the telephone and field calls from patients who are awaiting lab results, scheduling new appointments, or who have a question about their medication.

Potential Medical Assistant Courses

The path to a medical assistant certificate is fairly quick, but you will cover a lot of ground along the way. The profession is primarily broken into two chief divisions: clinical and administrative. As such, you will study topics in both areas so that you can handle days and weeks full of multi-tasking. Some of the courses you will take include:

Anatomy & Physiology:

This course will bring you up to speed on the various structures and systems of the human body. You will need a working knowledge of these systems so that you can better understand what patients are experiencing. You will also need the vocabulary and overall knowledge to help patients clearly describe their symptoms.

Surgical Procedures:

When you learn how the operating theater works, you can function as an assistant for minor in-office surgeries. You’ll learn how to maintain sterility, apply dressing to the surgical wound, and how to most effectively assist a physician during a minor operation.

Surgical Procedures:

When you learn how the operating theater works, you can function as an assistant for minor in-office surgeries. You’ll learn how to maintain sterility, apply dressing to the surgical wound, and how to most effectively assist a physician during a minor operation.

Examination Techniques:

Here you will learn how to approach a patient and take vital information about them, including simple medical tests, retrieving blood samples and administering EKGs.


Medicine relies heavily on pharmaceutical drugs to treat and heal diseases and disorders. With a solid background, you can help patients understand their medicines, including how and when to take them.

Laboratory Procedures:

There are simple lab procedures that you can do right there in the office. This course, or its equivalent, will help you gain facility with sterilization, lab equipment and all other pertinent procedures.

Interpersonal Communication:

Since a large part of your job is patient interaction, it is vital that you understand the fundamentals of listening and discussing delicate matters in the most effective manner possible. The more you hone your communication skills, the more effective you will be when you interact with the doctors and nurses in your office. When you all function with clear communication, the patients are bound to benefit.

Insurance Coding:

Insurers rely on codes to communicate the details on a claim. Therefore, it is vital that you be able to properly code patient charts to ensure that their policies pay for the work your office does.

Business Writing:

You may need to write reports or make notes in patient charts. Honing your writing skills will make this task more efficient and effective.

Office Management:

You will need to know how to operate a medical office, so this course will give you an overview.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Even medical assistant programs have gone online. You might be able to complete an entire program without ever having to step foot in a traditional campus classroom. However, you might find a program that is fully accredited but which offers a blend of online and traditional courses. The choice is yours to make.


Who needs online programs?

Not everyone has access to great educational programs close to home. Or, if you do, the commute may be too daunting, particularly for working adults with families. Military students also find it difficult to commit to a traditional campus, as they might be called away to duty in a foreign land, or another state, at the drop of a hat. For these reasons, online programs can fill the gap and offer a first-rate education and the opportunity to explore a new career.


What to look for in an online program.

The primary reason people chose online education is the convenience. However, not every online program is as convenient as the next. If you need absolute ease and convenience to ensure that you can see to your work and family duties, while completing your assignments, look for programs that feature asynchronous courses. These courses have a minimal schedule. You will need to submit work by a certain day and time – often midnight – but will not have to log in at any time for events such as moderated chat room discussions or streaming lectures. Rather, you can log in at any time to access all of your course material at any time that works best for you.

It is also important to check on the program’s accreditation. Look for programs that are approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. When you attend a fully accredited program, whether online or at an on-ground campus, you will be sure to receive the sort of attention and instruction you need to fully succeed in the healthcare industry. Further, your accredited courses might transfer to another program later where you can add new skills and training.


Medical Assistant Externships

Investigate whether your program includes an externship. This is a vital part of the process to become a medical assistant. During an externship, you can apply the knowledge you’ve gained in the classroom. Of course, this will mean that you must spend lots of time in a medical facility rather than completing coursework online. However, this portion of your training is vital not only when you apply for jobs, but when you are on the job and abnormalities arise. In fact, you might be able to convert an externship into a job.


Communicate With Instructors

As you pursue your certificate online, be sure to maintain contact with your instructors throughout every course. They can help clarify and elaborate on terms and concepts in ways that will be helpful. Though you may not see them face to face, you can always email them with questions. This way you can be sure to take the most advantage of the process of learning and growth. With more contact, the more the experience will mean to you and the more you are bound to learn.

Medical Assistant Salary

2016 Median Annual Salary for Medical Assistants is $31,540

In 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated $31,540 a year as the median pay for medical assistants. This number is likely to be higher in some regions and for those who have achieved special certifications.

When you have a full certificate or an AA degree as a medical assistant, your earnings are likely to rise. You will also find that you are given more responsibility and that your job is more rewarding as a direct result of your pursuit of higher knowledge.

Salary & Job Growth


annual median salary


job growth

Job Outlook for Medical Assistants

The outlook for medical assistants is quite rosy. The BLS estimates that the profession is headed for an explosion to the tune of 29 percent through 2026, a rate that is much higher than average. This rate is over twice that of accountants and auditors, for example. The explosion in the healthcare field is attributed to the aging population, WWII baby boomers, who are mostly in their retirement years and are thus headed towards the twilight years and the medical needs often found in that phase of life.

Take the Next Step

Ready to get on the path to a rewarding career as a medical assistant? Find the program that’s just right for you.