The medical field isn't just made up of nurses and doctors who are responsible with providing clinical care to patients. There are also numerous other tasks that are no less important in the day to day activities of a medical office. Things like record keeping, scheduling, billing, and more are all vital cogs in the medical machine. As a result, the demand for medical assistants has never been higher and is continuing to grow as more and more medical facilities and physician offices open their doors to patients.
Those who enroll in online medical assistant schools will be able to assume roles in doctor's offices, clinics, research facilities, labs, hospitals, and more. They can work in nearly any area of the medical field and will be responsible for managing patient records, filing insurance, handling medical billing, scheduling appointments, and much more. In many facilities they'll be qualified for taking patients' basic medical information and their basic vital signs and could even be responsible for collecting blood or urine for various lab tests. In other words, these professionals handle a huge number of different tasks and are far more than just glorified secretaries. They're important figures in any medical facility, and there is an expected thirty one percent job growth in this field over the next decade, much higher than the national average for job growth.
Students can complete a large percentage of their education online as well, and those who are self-disciplined and skilled at multitasking will be the best suited for this job and for online education in general.
Online Medical Assistant Degrees
Undergraduate/Graduate Certificate or Diploma: 1-2 years to complete
Associate Degree: 1 1/2-2 years to complete
Bachelor's Degree: 3-5 years to complete
Master's Degree: 2-4 years to complete
Earning a degree is the only way to become a medical assistant, and there are several different options that are available to you when you decide to pursue these degrees, each one giving you different advantages and drawbacks.
The certificate or diploma program is one that many students elect since they are a fast track into the field. They take between one and two years to complete and will cover things like medical terminology, office organization, office finance, lab procedures, legal terminology and more. Essentially they prepare students for roles in a medical office.
Earning an associate's degree will focus on all of those tasks but will also cover additional subjects relevant to operating in a medical facility. Things like psychology, deeper math classes, and even a closer look at more of the lab techniques used could all be included in the program. Students will also usually take a phlebotomy course as part of the better programs or in addition to them. This will help make them more likely to fill several roles within a medical office.
Bachelor's degree programs may be available as well, but in most cases will not be as readily available in online formats as the other options may be. These programs will cover all of the above mentioned subjects but will also delve much deeper into the business aspects surrounding the field. Graduates will be able to eventually assume leadership, management, and supervisory positions in their fields. This degree could lead to office manager jobs or more. Another option is to enroll in an MBA with a specialization in health care administration. This is an advanced degree that will qualify students much more completely for a role in leadership positions within the medical industry.
Entering an online medical assistant degree program is relatively simple and straightforward to do. The key requirement will be the completion of high school or at least possession of a GED. In some cases additional requirements may exist such as solid performance during high school or the completion of certain classes during high school. Some bachelor's degree programs will have stricter requirements and may require students to submit letters of recommendation or SAT scores. Those enrolling in master's degree programs generally have to hold an undergraduate degree in the field and possess a solid GPA. Standardized test scores may also be required for admittance and in the case of an MBA in health administration there's a good chance that GMAT scores will be required.
The main difference between the two types of degrees generally comes down to lab work. Those who enroll in a traditional program will be able to complete their lab work during their studies at school, while those who are learning online will be required to complete their lab work through an internship program offered by an external facility like a hospital or lab. It's also possible to enroll in a blended program that combines online classes with campus based lab work. In the end it's a matter of personal preference.
Tuition costs will vary depending on the type of program enrolled in and the school itself. Low end costs will be around two thousand dollars per year while the higher end costs will be more than sixteen thousand. A good average is between thirteen and fourteen thousand dollars per year.
Enrolling in a fully accredited program is one of the most important decisions you can make as well. Accreditation allows employers to know that you've earned your degree from a program that meets all of the highest standards. There are two accrediting bodies that handle these programs. They are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Both are highly respected and excellent options, and it's usually a good idea to look for these as well as for regional or national accreditation from various bodies. Once you've graduated from one of these programs you'll be qualified to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant or Registered Medical Assistant exam and gain your certification.
Finding the right degree involves careful consideration of just where you want your career to take you and when. Those looking for a fast track into the field will obviously want to earn a certificate while students who hope to move their careers into the management and business end of the job will probably want to consider earning a more advanced degree.