Online Medical Assistant Programs

Online Medical Assisting Programs May Be Completed In 18 Months!

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WHAT IS A MEDICAL ASSISTANT?

Medical assistants (MAs) are the people who greet you at the front desk of a doctor’s office. They help out on other health care teams too. Some of what MAs do is take care of office tasks. Things like setting up appointments. Yet other skills involve simple patient care duties. Things like taking down your vital signs. It is also important to note that 65% of MAs have earned a post secondary certificate. These certificates may be completed as an online medical assisting program, or in a local campus.

Often the role a medical assistant plays varies on where they work. But they are always supervised by a licensed health care provider. No matter where the job, MAs have a lot to offer. Because of this, their skills are in demand. Reports show a surge of 23% job growth over the next few years. If you’re thinking about it, you’ll want to find out how to prepare.

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MEDICAL ASSISTANTS: A RANGE OF POSSIBILITIES

MEDICAL ASSISTANT RESPONSIBILITIES

WHERE MEDICAL ASSISTANTS WORK

TYPES OF MEDICAL ASSISTANTS

  • Record patient history
  • Answer telephones
  • Arrange lab services
  • Enter & update health records
  • Schedule appointments
  • Measure vital signs
Most Medical Assistants (57%) work in doctor’s offices.
Others work in hospitals, labs and in dental offices.
  • Administrative MAs
  • Clinical MAs
  • Specialized MAs
  • Registered  MAs

MEDICAL ASSISTANT ONLINE PROGRAMS

Medical assistant online classes help you learn the basics of health care. Some courses study the body and its systems. Others focus on medical words and their meaning. You may also become familiar with the names of different drugs and lab tests.

Time spent in the lab is more hands on. These courses are all about using the tools of the trade. Things like preparing blood samples for the lab. Or, you may learn how to use software like electronic health records (EHRs).

Working With Patients

You may also study how to deal with patients. This may mean that you learn how to measure vital signs. Or, the best ways to greet patients and check them in. As a result, you’ll have a deeper sense of how to communicate with clients in an ethical and professional manner.

It’s likely you’ll also study some of the day to day office procedures. These courses often ready you to schedule appointments. And, do things like assist with patient insurance claims and use medical coding.

Some schools have course plans that serve as study guides. They often ready grads to take industry exams. Apart from classes, your program may ask you to do an externship. This is one way to apply classroom learning in real time. As an online student, you may be able to do this in a nearby clinic or doctor’s office.

WHAT COURSES MIGHT I TAKE IN A MEDICAL ASSISTANT PROGRAM?

We’ve compiled a sample course plan to help you get an idea of what you may study in a medical assistant program. Since each school has unique courses, make sure to look at their syllabus. This way you’ll see if it agrees with your goals.  Some of the best online medical assistant programs offer classes like:

Some common courses include:

Anatomy: Learn about the human body's systems. These courses are made to educate MA students about the parts and structures that make up the human body.

Patient Care: Explore the techniques used for performing direct patient care. These courses will allow you to be prepared to work in the field. During this course, MA students are shown how to perform patient assessments, get vital signs and gather medical history.

Office Administration: Learn the clerical skills needed to work as an MA. This course teaches students how to successfully manage a doctor's office. Students are shown how to manage a patient and office schedule.

Medical Terminology: Understand the medical terms used when talking about patients, treatments, medicine and conditions. Definitions and correct spelling of the words used in health care are taught in this course.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A MEDICAL ASSISTANT?

Diploma and certificate medical assistant programs may last between 10 months and 1 year. Full time students going for an associate’s degree often take about two years. Students who’ve earned a certificate may be able to complete their degree quicker.

Types of Medical Assistants

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) – The American Medical Technologists offers the RMA exam. You’ll need to meet one of four eligibility paths: (1) education, (2) military, (3) work experience, (4) instructor. The RMA credential is good for 3 years and then you’ll need to re certify.

National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) – The National Center for Competency Testing offers the NCMA exam. To take it, you’ll need to be a current student or graduate of an NCCT authorized school. Others with two years of work or some military experience may also be able to take it. Once you have the NCMA, you will need to keep your status active.

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) – The National Health Career Association offers the CCMA and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) credentials. Once you have passed your exam, the cert will be active for two years. To stay current, you’ll need to complete continuing education and renew.

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MEDICAL ASSISTANT DEGREE PROGRAMS EXAMPLES

School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Rasmussen College38Multiple9
Ultimate Medical Academy61 – 62Multiple18 – 21
Trident University36Multiple12

HOW MUCH DOES MEDICAL ASSISTANT SCHOOL COST?

Some schools have two prices for online MA programs. One for in state and the other for out of state residents. Recent data lists the average out of state tuition as $18,021. This cost is on the rise by 9.55%. The average in state tuition which is $3,705 is also increasing (by 2.79%).

At college, you’ll pay for the credits you complete. In other words, if you pursue a certificate, it may cost less than an associate’s degree. And, certificates need fewer courses.

Many schools offer ways to save. Military and veteran students are often able to get a lower rate. Or, they may have credit transfer policies. This means using prior credits, so you’ll have less to do and less to pay for. Make sure to also know what the fees are to graduate. Course materials are extra too.

Apart from these expenses, you may need to pay to take industry exams. Plus, you’ll pay a fee for your certification and to renew it. The CMA exam can cost $125 if you’re a member of the AAMA or a CAAHEP or ABHES completing student or recent grad. You can check these figures on each of their web sites.

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Trident University36$1,158$13,900
Purdue University Global57$371$21,147
Ultimate Medical Academy61$404.75$24,690

TOP ONLINE MEDICAL ASSISTANT SCHOOLS

According to the data, the largest share of schools with MA programs are public, 2 year schools (404 total). Those schools awarded 69,620 degrees to students. The majority of these were associate’s degrees. Not all of these awards were online medical assistant programs.

School2017 Degrees awarded2019/20 Tuition (out of state unless *)
San Joaquin Valley College  Visalia1,177$43,990*
Vista College836$15,680*
Charter College729$18,161*
ECPI University618$16,639*
Florida Technical College588$14,025*
Ivy Tech Community College579$8,661
ASA College414$12,728*

*Estimated for full time, starting undergrad students

MEDICAL ASSISTANT CERTIFICATION: DO I NEED TO BE CERTIFIED TO BECOME A MEDICAL ASSISTANT?

Can you be a medical assistant without certification? That depends on the state. In some states, MAs have to graduate from an accredited program, pass an exam, or both. In other states, formal education is not required. That said, today’s employers tend to prefer grads of medical assistant programs.

To set yourself apart, you may pursue a post degree cert. It’s voluntary but shows others you have dedication and skills. Plus, standards are changing. As such, certified MAs may have a wider scope of duties than others. You should contact your state board of medicine for more details.

TYPES OF MEDICAL ASSISTANT CERTIFICATES

Medical Administrative Assistant Certificate: A focus on how to manage an office. You’ll study things like patient privacy and data security. This may suit you if you have strong people skills and prefers office tasks.

Medical Billing and Coding Certificate: This may suit you if you like to use computers. You may focus on software and systems. Courses may ready you to take the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) or CCS cert exam offered by AHIMA also known as the American Health Information Management Association.

A.S. Health Sciences – Medical Administrative Assistant: Courses may prepare you to take the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) exam. Pursuing a full degree also leaves the door open to future studies. You may decide later to work towards a degree such as a Bachelor of Science in Health Science or in Health and Wellness.

Medical Office Administration Certificate: Study the ins and outs of insurance processing and other office tasks. May also ready grads to sit for Certified Medical Administrative Specialist (CMAS), CCA, National Certified Medical Office Assistant (NCMOA) exams.

WHAT CERTIFICATION SHOULD A MEDICAL ASSISTANT HAVE?

The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) is well known. It is available through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To be able to take this exam you will need at least a high school diploma. Graduating from an AAMA approved school is also a must. The two agencies who accredit medical assisting programs are:

  1. Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  2. Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)

CMA applicants also need to complete a practicum (unpaid, supervised). The credential is valid for 60 months, so you’ll have to renew it.

MEDICAL ASSISTANT CAREERS

According to most recent data, there are over 4 million people working in the health industry! On average, most workers are 42.8 years old. However, the average age of a degree seeker is 28 to 30. 92% of degree seekers are female.

The medical assistant field is growing much faster than average at a rate of 23% by 2028. The average yearly wage of workers is $33,610, or $16.16 an hour.

Alternatives to becoming an MA might include Health Information Technology, Health Service Managers and Medical Billing and Coding. All of these fields are also growing!

TOP STATES FOR MEDICAL ASSISTANT JOBS

The states with the highest employment level of medical assistants are:

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Alaska2,740$45,630
District of Columbia1,870$44,530
Washington15,780$43,760
Massachusetts14,990$41,780
Minnesota9,950$41,710

MEDICAL ASSISTANTS

There are several types of medical assistant careers that may spark your interest:

  • Administrative MAs do many of the front office tasks like scheduling and answering the phones
  • Clinical MAs do basic lab tests and may have more responsibilities around patient care (prepare for x rays, draw blood etc.)
  • Optometric MAs may help an ophthalmologist in surgery or assist in an optometrist office
  • Podiatric MAs help foot doctors and may make castings of feet or help a podiatrist in surgery

Median Salary: $33,610 ($16.16/hr.)

Job Growth Through 2028: 23% (Much faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Post secondary non degree award

MEDICAL SECRETARIES

Medical secretaries know their way around legal terms and office tasks. Some of their work involves patient scheduling, billing, and keeping medical charts in order. They may also serve as the right arm to a doctor, taking care of correspondence and emails.

Median Salary: $38,880 ($18.69/hr.)

Job Growth Through 2028: -7% (Decline)

Typical Entry level Education: High school diploma or equivalent

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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